During the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, scammers are putting extra effort into preying upon Hoosiers distracted by the ongoing crisis, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said.

This includes sending fraudulent emails falsely appearing to come from reputable sources, a practice known as “phishing.”

Two recent examples of such phishing scams include an email that appeared to come from Amazon and a message to church members that appeared to come from their pastor.

The fake Amazon email sought to induce recipients to provide personal financial information – likely trying to capitalize on the fact that consumers are frequently using Amazon and other delivery services as they avoid stores for the sake of social distancing.

The fake church email, meanwhile, contained malware that infected the computers of recipients who clicked on prompts within the email.

“Those who would use the current perilous circumstances as an opportunity to prey upon others are manifesting a particular kind of wickedness,” Hill said. “We all would like to apprehend such criminals and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. In the meantime, though, we need to do our best to help would-be victims avoid falling into their traps.”

Hill offered these tips to avoid phishing scams during the coronavirus pandemic:

Carefully inspect the email addresses in all messages landing in your inbox.

Treat with caution any emails or texts with subject lines or information about the coronavirus.

Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments.

Use trusted, legitimate government websites to obtain up-to-date information.

Don’t reveal personal or financial information via email or text message.

Verify the authenticity of a charity before donating money.

Read guidelines offered by the Federal Trade Commission on avoiding phishing scams.

Hoosiers who believe they have encountered possible scams may file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by going online and clicking “File a Complaint.” If you need more information about services provided by this office, you may call 1-800-382-5516.

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