For every moment in time, there is an opportunity to create good from it, and likewise, to create bad or negative reactions. COVID-19 has given us both. While of course, we wouldn’t wish it to happen again, we have seen people come together, new businesses arise, and an overall re-evaluation of our priorities.

Then there’s the flipside. With many obvious negatives, the one that we don’t always hear about on the news is perhaps the rise of cybercrime. Hackers and cybercriminals will take ANY opportunity and use it to prey on the unsuspecting, and this pandemic has given them a goldmine of ways to do that.

Target Audience

Individuals who are older, and perhaps not as familiar with smart and secure cyber practices can be at a disadvantage by not recognizing the tactics used by cybercriminals. For example, Medicare numbers and the personal information associated with it is the target of recent COVID-19 scams directed at older individuals. Texts or robocalls ask the recipient if they would like to receive free testing kits, “cures”, face masks, or other protective equipment, and all that they have to do is “provide their Medicare information” to receive it. In these times of uncertainty, it would be easy enough to not give a second thought about giving up information for something “free”, not knowing if this is one of the supplemental programs that the government has set up. There is a lot of information out there and it is hard to keep up with what is legitimate. Additionally, when supplies are scarce, the opportunity to take advantage of receiving them is tempting.

Work Together

While you may not be on a Medicare list and in danger of a call or text of these kinds, you ARE a citizen of the world during a pandemic. There is a lot of misinformation floating around, a lot of uncertainty as to what is real and what is speculation, and there is a lot of fear. This mixture is the perfect recipe for cybercrime to thrive. Work together with your colleagues, your family, and your friends, and ensure that you are protecting each other. Discuss what may happen in situations like this and tell them to get a phone number to call back, or a website to verify that the information is accurate before proceeding with the caller’s requests. Offer to help them review the opportunities that they come across to make sure that they are safe and viable. Make sure that you tell your patients and loved ones what to look for in scams. Remind them of procedures that are legitimate and those that are not – for example, Medicare will never visit you at your home or enroll you over the phone unless you call first.

Now more than ever, we must work together to not only create new solutions, but also new ways of protecting each other as well as ourselves.