North Carolina’s chief information officer and chief risk officer issued a warning Friday morning about cybercrime, stressing that people need to be careful to avoid scams and other threats during Hurricane Florence. Here are the five tips they offered:

  • Carefully look at email and web addresses since cybercriminals will make them look as legitimate as possible, often using variations of spellings. The URL may have a different domain, such as .gov instead of .net.
  • Do not click on links in emails from anyone unless you know and have verified the sender of the email.
  • Take time to look at the sender’s email address. Do not click on any links until you are certain the organization is real. Check the organization’s website for its contact information and use sites such as to verify a charity organization.
  • Make sure your all of your anti-virus software is up to date and you’ve enacted the anti-phishing software provided by your email client.
  • Phishing emails and phone calls may also try to pose as official disaster aid organizations such as FEMA. A true FEMA representative will never ask personal banking information, Social Security number, or registration number.

Phishing is a particular threat during disasters, noted State Chief Information Officer Eric Boyette and State Chief Risk Officer Maria Thompson.

“Cyber criminals take advantage of natural disasters such as hurricanes to solicit personal information illegally and to take advantage of vulnerable infrastructures, disaster victims, and volunteers by phishing,” they noted.

“Phishing is when a criminal sends out an email, text message, or even a phone call pretending to be a reputable and legitimate source in order to obtain personal information such as credit card and Social Security numbers.”

Stressed Thompson: “Phishing threats are real. Cyber criminals will use every tactic in their arsenal to deprive citizens of their information and ultimately their financial assets.”

Added Bovette:  “Too many people are vulnerable during natural disasters and it is imperative to take necessary precautions to protect yourself. Think of it as preparing an emergency kit for your personal data.”

More information is available online.