Beware of U.S. Census Phishing Scam
Cybercriminals have been using the COVID-19 pandemic to their advantage by releasing a surge of attacks related to the virus with the hopes of stealing personal information. According to ZScaler, a cloud security company, there was a 30,000% increase in phishing, websites, and malware targeting remote users between January and March, all related to COVID-19.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS recently warned people of phishing messages regarding the COVID-19 stimulus payment that is being distributed to individuals, small businesses, and families. In response, attackers have evolved their method of delivery by posing as the U.S. Census Bureau and delivering a new round of phishing messages via text, email, and social media. Similar to the previous stimulus payment scams, the goal of this attack is to obtain a victim’s personal information in order to then steal their identity.
The message that appears to come from the U.S. Census Bureau claims that the person needs to complete the 2020 U.S. Census in order to qualify for a stimulus payment. Some versions of the message include a link that can be visited for “more information,” but when clicked on, it downloads malware onto the device and gives the attacker access to sensitive information, including login credentials for online accounts. Other versions of the message include a link that connects to a fake U.S. Census Bureau website that asks for sensitive information such as Social Security numbers and personal financial information.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the Census Bureau only sends emails if a person has already subscribed to them in the past and will never ask for personal information to be sent over email. Additionally, the Census Bureau doesn’t contact people on behalf of political parties.
To avoid scams like this and others that are circulating on the web during this unprecedented time, be sure to go directly to a trusted source for updated information regarding COVID-19. In the case of the U.S. government, official websites always end in “.gov.” For up-to-date information about stimulus payments, visit irs.gov/coronavirus