Beware of Hurricane-Related Scams

Monday, June 1, 2020

June 1 marks the official start of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warns users to remain on alert for malicious cyber activity targeting potential disaster victims and charitable donors after hurricanes. Fraudulent emails — often containing malicious links or attachments — are common after major natural disasters. Exercise caution in handling emails with hurricane-related subject lines, attachments and hyperlinks. In addition, be wary of social media pleas, texts and door-to-door solicitations related to severe weather events.

To avoid becoming a victim of malicious activity, review the following tips and take preventive measures.

  • Carefully review email and web addresses because cybercriminals will make them look as legitimate as possible, often using variations of spellings. The URLs may have a different domain, such as .gov instead of .net.
  • Do not click on links in emails from anyone unless you know and have verified the sender.
  • Take time to review the sender’s email address. Do not click on any links until you are certain that the organization is real. Check the organization’s website for its contact information, and use sites such as Charity Navigator to verify charity organizations.
  • Make sure that all your antivirus software is up to date, and you have enabled the antiphishing software provided by your email client.
  • Criminals send phishing emails and make phone calls posing as official representatives of disaster aid organizations, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A true FEMA representative will never ask for personal banking information, Social Security numbers or registration numbers.

For more information about dealing with weather emergencies and avoiding disaster scams, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information on Dealing with Weather Emergencies.

For more resources and tips, see the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.