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Privacy commission warns vs phishing emails using COVID-19 scare


The National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Tuesday warned the public against online fraudsters that use the COVID-19 scare to steal personal information and money.

In a statement, the NPC said “a growing number of online fraudsters are exploiting the public fear surrounding the COVID-19, using the pandemic to lure people into clicking phishing emails and installing malwares capable of stealing personal data and money.”

“Our fear during a crisis can expose us to data privacy risks, predisposing us to make hasty or ill-informed choices online, which fraudsters are taking advantage of,” it said.

In view of these heightened risks, the NPC called on the public to take extra precaution online, especially when using online financial services and accessing health-related apps.

“Be cautious with the sites you visit, enhance your privacy settings, and protect your personal data,” the privacy body said.

“In this period of  home quarantine, digital access becomes our main gateway not just for news but also to coordinate tasks with co-workers, make online financial transactions, and most importantly, get in touch with loved ones,” it said.

The NPC stressed that fraudsters can steal sensitive data, cause financial and reputational damages, and make devices unusable.

“To avoid such scenarios, we need to be vigilant and familiarize ourselves with the warning signs,” it said.

The NPC gave the following tips to protect personal data in the time of COVID-19:

 

  •     Do not give out your personal data in suspicious COVID-themed emails and messages.
  •     Make trusted government and other legitimate websites your go-to source for the latest COVID information.
  •     Ensure that the charity or crowdfunding campaign you plan to donate to is legitimate.
  •     Be mindful of phishing baits from online scammers.

“During this critical period, all our focus and efforts should go to the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We should avoid, at all cost, getting sidetracked by these digital pitfalls,” the NPC said.

The privacy body encouraged the public that it they feel that their personal data have been compromised, contact the NPC complaints and investigation team at complaints@privacy.gov.ph and info@privacy.gov.ph.—AOL, GMA News