NBI to public: Beware of online scams using COVID-19 crisis
MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Friday warned the public against scams that use the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as a front to steal money or personal information.
NBI officer-in-charge Eric Distor cautioned against clicking suspicious links as it can compromise devices and personal data.
“Do your research first before clicking on any links purporting to provide any information and updates on the virus, donations, contributions to free food campaign, online food purchase or providing personal information to receive money or other benefits,” he said in an advisory.
He also advised the public to watch out for fake emails that claim to be coming from the Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, and other government agencies or organizations that claim to offer or require information about the disease.
The NBI official explained that clicking these links may deliver malware to computers and steal personal information of users, or allow cybercriminals to lock devices and demand payment as “ransom.”
“Beware of websites and apps. They that say they can track COVID-19 cases worldwide or related campaigns. Criminals will use these apps to infect and lock your devices until payment is made,” said Distor.
He likewise advised the public not to give personal information especially about online banking of bank transactions.
“Contact your bank’s website or customer service hotline or post the emails or messages you received and let your bank validate it or file complaints [on] your behalf to the appropriate government or law enforcement agencies,” he said.
He enumerated some of the possible scams during the crisis as those related to the supposed treatment of COVID-19, the supply of essential items, charity, phishing, investment, online selling, and scams through mobile applications.
Reports on suspicious messages or emails can be reported to the NBI Operation Center at 0961-734-9450 or to the NBI Anti-Fraud or Cybercrime Divisions at 85238231-38. They may also post or send a message to NBI’s website at www.nbi.gov.ph or Facebook account.
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