During the coronavirus pandemic, there’s been a direct correlation with the rise of online activity, data breaches and identity theft. As many Americans’ personally identifiable information goes digital, it’s becoming increasingly vulnerable to hacks and theft by cybercriminals who profit from access to online accounts.
This past year, in particular, internet services have experienced anywhere from a 40% to 100% rise in usage as part of COVID-19 lockdowns. While cloud computing and services such as Amazon Prime, Instacart, Uber and DoorDash are making it easy to carry out many daily responsibilities from home, the increase in online activity has also created opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit fears and curiosity about the pandemic.
During the pandemic, for instance, Google has reported a 350% increase in phishing sites. Many of these are due to cybercriminals taking advantage of higher online activity and public concern relating to coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine. Some popular scams people are falling for involve:
- Expedited stimulus checks
- Refunds for cancelled events or travel plans
- Government-issued online coronavirus tests
- Donation scams
- COVID-19 cures and vaccines
So far, the Federal Trade Commission has received 326,971 total reports of identity theft and fraud that specifically mention COVID-19, stimulus and N95 mask-related terms. Of these COVID-19 related fraud reports, 52% indicated a loss, amounting to $309.41 million in losses.
Unfortunately, identity theft related fraud isn’t showing any signs of slowing down any time soon. Cybercrime annual revenue currently totals $1.5 trillion, surpassing the revenue of Tesla, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Walmart combined.
Signing up for identity monitoring can search for signs of fraud, especially during this time of cybercrime growth.