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Phishing Scams Have Increased During Pandemic

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CBS4's Nancy Chen explains what to look out for.

Video Transcript

LAUREN PASTRANA: Now to a CBS 4 News "Consumer Alert", there's been an increase in phishing scams during the pandemic. That's where con artists send out emails and texts hoping to reel in victims.

ELLIOT RODRIGUEZ: CBS 4's Nancy Chen tells us about a new scam that targets people who are already down on their luck.

NANCY CHEN: The pandemic led to job losses and people signing up for unemployment benefits online, something con artists have keyed in on. How successful have these scammers been?

Oh, these scammers have been very successful.

STEVE RAGAN: Unemployment fraud like this is happening all across the country in every state.

NANCY CHEN: Steve Ragan is with Akamai Technologies and recently uncovered a fake New York unemployment website that looks like the real thing. It's since been taken down, but Ragan created this one to show us how it worked. Scam artists send a text or email directing jobless workers to their website. After a username and password are entered, the fake site asked for their mother's maiden name and pin number. Once the information is entered, users are actually sent to the real New York page. Do people who enter in their personal information on these fake sites even realize that they've been scammed?

STEVE RAGAN: No, they do not. By the time the scam is over, in fact, it forwards you to the real domain, and you'll never notice.

NANCY CHEN: But the scam artist now has the info and can log on as the unsuspecting victim and find even more personal information.

STEVE RAGAN: Everything that a criminal would need to commit fraud using your identity.

NANCY CHEN: Last year the FBI received almost a quarter of a million complaints about phishing scams with people losing around $54 million.

DAN PATTERSON: If you do fall for one of these phishing scams the consequences can be pretty severe.

NANCY CHEN: CBS tech reporter Dan Patterson says, criminals who get personal info can sell it on the dark web.

DAN PATTERSON: Think twice before you click on any link in your email or your text messages.

NANCY CHEN: One way to spot a fake site is to double check the URL. For example, this looks like a legitimate Google site, but it's not because of the .tk at the end, a small difference that can lead to big problems if your info ends up in the wrong hands. Nancy Chen, CBS News, New York.