Phoenix Crawford does school work on a laptop while being home-schooled by his mum Donna Eddy on April 09, 2020 in Sydney, Australia
Phoenix Crawford does school work on a laptop while being home-schooled by his mum Donna Eddy on April 09, 2020 in Sydney, Australia

Coronavirus quizzes could be used to steal from people worried about covid-19, experts warn

Questionnaires look like that are checking knowledge about pandemic – but actually gather unnecessary personal information

Andrew Griffin
Friday 10 April 2020 11:42
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Online coronavirus quizzes could be used to steal from people concerned about the disease, experts have warned.

Questionnaires are being shared online that look like they are checking whether people know about the spread of the pandemic, but are in fact gathering personal information that could be used for fraudulent activity, according to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

The quizzes ask for details such as maiden names, family information, pets and contact details, including email addresses and telephone numbers, all bearing the hallmarks of a data harvesting operation commonly seen in financial fraud and identity theft, the institute warned.

"The general public should be wary of online quizzes, especially those themed around the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic," said Katherine Hart, lead officer at the CTSI.

"Many of them ask personal questions which may seem harmless at first, such as pet names; however, scammers can harvest this data to create a full profile of the target.

"Security questions for bank accounts and online passwords usually incorporate this kind of information.

"The public should remember that each little tid-bit of information shared online is available to fraudsters to pick up and assemble into a target profile.

"My advice is - think about what you are putting online, and who could potentially see this information.

"Over time this adds up, and you may find that you have placed much more information about yourself online than you first thought."

It comes amid a spate of scams linked to the pandemic, as criminals seek to capitalise on people's fears.

Fake food shopping vouchers and a bogus text telling individuals they have been fined for going out during lockdown are among them.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a surge in all kinds of scams, ranging from the doorstep to email, telephone and social media and everyone should be extra cautious of what they communicate online at this unprecedented time," added Leon Livermore, chief executive of the CTSI.

Additional reporting by agencies

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