In the wake of the devastating Hurricane Matthew, Internet users are being warned to watch out for scam and malware messages related to the storm. Callous scammers are always quick to exploit natural disasters, and Hurricane Matthew is no exception.
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Already, many people have reported receiving a bogus email that claims that you can click a link to find out about power outages in your area. Clicking the link opens a website that contains malware.
Other Hurricane Matthew related malware messages may be distributed in the coming days and weeks. Emails or social media posts may claim that you can click a link to read news reports with more information about the hurricane. In some cases, the messages may appear to come from genuine news outlets such as CNN. However, as with the “power outage” emails, the links will open websites that harbour malware.
If you visit these websites, you may be tricked into downloading and installing malware in the belief that you are accessing news reports or video footage related to the hurricane.
Alternatively, the messages may attempt to trick you into opening an attached file to read a supposed news article. These attachments will contain malware.
Be cautious of any unsolicited messages claiming to have news about Hurricane Matthew. Rather than clicking links or opening attachments in such emails, it is best to visit the websites of reputable news outlets directly or perform a search via a news portal such as Google News. Any new or important information about the hurricane is sure to be extensively covered by mainstream news outlets.
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Various donation request messages may ask people to visit a website or fill in a form in an attached file to donate money to help victims of Hurricane Matthew.
These messages may seem legitimate, at least at first glance. They may feature logos, secondary links, and contact details for genuine charities.
However, the donation requests will be fraudulent. If you ‘donate’ via these bogus websites, you will be giving your credit card details and other personal information to criminals who can then use it to commit credit card fraud and identity theft. Of course, any money you donate will be taken by criminals and certainly will not be used to help victims of the hurricane.
Only donate via legitimate organisations such as the Red Cross. Before you donate, ensure that you are on the organisation’s genuine website, not a fake site created by scammers to steal your credit card numbers. Rather than click a link in an unsolicited donation email, it is safer to go directly to the organisation’s website via your web browser.
These immoral scammers apparently have no qualms about capitalising on disasters. But, if you remain vigilant and aware, you won’t get caught by these scams. You can also help by making sure that that your friends and families are aware of such scams.
Last updated: October 10, 2016
First published: October 10, 2016
By Brett M. Christensen