Coronavirus: WHO warns against criminal scams to steal money, sensitive informations

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CDC/James Gathany The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has activated its Emergency Operations Center to assist public health partners in responding to the coronavirus outbreak

GENEVA, MARCH 1 – The World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that criminals are taking advantage of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, to steal money or sensitive information. Criminal elements, says the UN health agency, are posing as WHO representatives, and recommends that, if anyone is contacting by a person or organization claiming to be from the Organization, they should take steps to verify their authenticity.

Examples of suspicious behaviour include asking for login information, sending unasked-for email attachments, directing people to a Website other than www.who.int, and asking for direct donations to emergency response plans or funding appeals.

WHO firmly states that it never does any of these things, and warns that scams can come in the form of emails, websites, phone calls, text messages, and even fax messages.

Malicious emails sent by scammers are known as “phishing” emails. They appear to come from the WHO, and ask for sensitive information, such as user names and passwords, ask users to click on suspicious links, and open malicious attachments. Following these instructions allows criminals to install software that can give them access to, or damage, computers.

As many social media accounts share information about COVID-19, the head of WHO, Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus, called on the public to seek official sources (such as the WHO Website) to find out how to protect oneself, loved ones and the local community. The WHO Website has comprehensive, regularly updated and authoritative expert information on the virus.

In a tweet published on Saturday, Tedros acknowledged the anxiety that many feel about COVID-19, and emphasised the importance of preparation, and planning how to stay safe at work, school or places of worship. (@OnuItalia)