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Invoice discounts and free COVID-19 tests? DECO identifies hundreds of scams in the middle of a pandemic

DECO has again warned consumers of the growing number of online scams and scams that are trying to take advantage of users' fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last few weeks marked by the State of Emergency in Portugal, the Consumer Protection Association has identified large hundreds of scams.

In TSF statements, DECO indicated that among the most frequent scams are promises such as the offer of personal protection material, free COVID-19 tests and discounts on domestic bills. Also noteworthy are those who report an alleged fundraising for infected patients or free vaccination campaigns in the NHS.

MB WAY also offers criminals a way to carry out fraudulent schemes in the middle of a pandemic. DECO said it has received multiple reports of scam stories through the application of the SIBS used by millions of Portuguese. The problem is not in the payment and transfer tool itself, but in the lack of knowledge of those who use it, explained the Association.

The security problems associated with digital video calling platforms like Zoom have caught DECO's attention. The entity recalled that it is necessary to take into account what data the applications collect and how they do it before installing them and actually starting to use them.

The Association stressed again that the best weapon against cyber-burles is even suspicious. Maintain a critical spirit and carefully analyze any messages that arrive by SMS, email or through social networks that seem too good (or bad) to be essential truth. In addition, DECO recommends to remain calm, as criminals know that, in an uncertain situation, people tend to act more impulsively.

Recently, in Portugal, there was an alert that several taxpayers had been receiving fraudulent e-mail messages on behalf of the Tributria Authority. The scam did not use COVID-19 as bait, however, it arose simultaneously at a time when people pay more attention to their devices because they are at home longer and when the IRS delivery time is approaching.

In pandemic times, cybercrime has increased dramatically. In Europe, Europol is combining efforts to stem a wide range of threats. After having eliminated some 2,500 fraudulent web addresses in just one week, the European Police Service has reported that, in addition to the increase in phishing campaigns or malware attacks, child sexual exploitation through the Internet is on the increase.