THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) is warning the public against a rise in online fraud during the COVID-19 outbreak.

NPC in a bulletin Tuesday said online scammers are exploiting public fear to lure individuals into clicking phishing emails and installing malware that can steal personal data and money.

NCP said that home quarantine during the Luzon-wide lockdown — where people working from home rely heavily on online transactions — presents ripe conditions for online fraud.

“They can steal your sensitive data, cause you financial and reputational damage, make your device unusable and cut you off from the outside world.”

NPC advised the public not to offer personal data in “suspicious COVID-themed emails and messages.” The commission advised the public not to click on attached files in unsolicited messages that promise COVID-19 vaccines or cures not reported in the news.

“It is most likely a phishing attack that steals your financial data such as credit card or online banking details.”

NPC also said to look up legitimate websites when finding information about the pandemic, not “random” websites or applications.

“What we may find on these sites instead are suspicious links, pop-ups and downloadable files, resulting in a ransomware infection that locks us out of our devices.”

NPC advised to ensure the legitimacy of a charity or crowdfunding campaign before donating, by doing research, checking with contacts, and verifying how much has been debited from bank accounts.

It cautioned against dealings with people claiming to represent legitimate companies and to verify their authority to transact with the companies directly. — Jenina P. Ibañez