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How to prevent scams and fake news in times of coronavirus

Virtual classes and teleworking become opportunities for malicious people to start scamming. 

Woman checking her computer on a sofa.

Follow these recommendations and avoid being a victim of scams or fake news./ Photo: Rawpixel

LatinAmerican Post | Lina Marcela Peñalosa

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Leer en español: ¿Cómo prevenir estafas y noticias falsas en tiempos de coronavirus?

The Covid 19 virus, also known as the coronavirus, has unleashed countless changes in our lives. In order to reduce the number of infections, compulsory quarantine has been decreed in many countries, resulting in virtual classes and teleworking. This has increased the use of the internet and different platforms such as email and social networks and with it, cyber crimes and fake news have also increased.

To avoid becoming a victim of a scam, downloading a virus online or falling for fake news, keep in mind the following five recommendations:

1. Check the sources

When you open an email, make sure that the address it comes from is trustworthy and that you know it. Do not open messages that come from unknown or strange addresses.

In the case of false news, the overproduction of information hinders knowing the veracity of the sources. For this reason, it is necessary to ensure the reputation from where you are obtaining the information. If possible, contrast the facts with other sources to confirm the data.

Go directly to the websites of reliable newspapers, media and institutions to obtain truthful data.

Read also: How have some countries stopped the Coronavirus?

2. Doubt the information you receive in social media

Social networks have facilitated the way we inform ourselves thanks to immediacy. However, these platforms have become spaces to share false chains that create panic and disinformation. Not everything found there is true since anyone can write information that goes viral and ends up being false.

In case of receiving a chain in WhatsApp, enter trustworthy portals to check if indeed the data that is delivered in those chains is real. If the information turns out to be false, stop sharing the chain anymore and let the people that shared it with you know that it is fake news.

If you find profiles on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram that are spreading false information, report them. These platforms have policies against fake news and can block such profiles.

3. Don't click on unknown links

AVG Antivirus Free recommends not clicking on unknown links as it can be a virus online. At the time of clicking ask yourself:

  • Is the person that shares the link trustworthy?
  • Do I trust the platform through which I received the link?
  • Is the link a shortened link?

In the case of the last question, you can use these two sites, LongURL and CheckShortURL, to see the original link and notice if there is something strange in that URL.

Read also: How people investigate, or don't, fake news

4. Don't download files from unknown senders

Hackers take advantage of situations, such as the current pandemic, to send malicious messages that aim to infect your computer with viruses or access your files and then bribe you to recover them.

Similar to the first recommendation, check if the message is indeed coming from a known email address. If you click on the message and later realize that this address has spelling errors or details that seem suspicious, do not download the files that are attached and report that address. Take this precaution, even more seriously when these emails are in your spam tray.

5. Install an antivirus

To protect your files and your privacy, we recommend that you buy and install an antivirus. In this way, you will be protecting the information on your computer and your cell phone. Get an antivirus from a trustworthy brand and in authorized retailers to avoid obtaining pirated versions, which may affect the integrity of your devices.

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