Criminals are taking advantage of these stressful times to scam (steal) your money.
The overwhelming amount of news coverage surrounding the novel coronavirus has created a new danger — phishing attacks looking to exploit public fears about the sometimes-deadly virus. Almost 6 million dollars, averaging $600/person, has been stolen already. Scammers know you are busy and don’t have time to research what they say. We want something to be easy right now, don’t we? That’s why criminals are pouncing so hard. We’re vulnerable. If it sounds too easy or too good – it’s a scam.
Method 1: Texts, Emails, and Calls
Emotions are high lately, so read these COVID-19 twists on old and new tricks.
- You get a phone call from someone “working for” a major name in insurance that offers you additional insurance for COVID-19. Nope, that’s a scam. Insurers are not offering additional coverage for COVID-19. Forbes goes into more detail on the matters of insurance fraud here.
- The Treasury Department or Social Security office call you (um, no!) saying they need your bank account number and routing number to deposit the stimulus check. Scam. These departments don’t call. They send official letters or federal agents.
- Student Loans are the scammers' new tactic because of the recent federal stimulus. If you have student loans, thank the person for the reminder. Hang up. Dig out the paperwork and call the number on your statements to ask how to defer payments. Banks don’t have the time or employees available right now to call you. It’s a scam.
- Unless you signed up to get text offers from a company, and even if you did, we’d still recommend you call the company or visit their website directly with a legit phone number you found online to confirm the deal is real. There are way too many text scams to take the chance.
- Email messages might ask you to open an attachment to see the latest statistics. If you click on the attachment or embedded link, you’re likely to download malware onto your device. This could allow cybercriminals to take control of your computer, log your keystrokes, or access your personal information and financial data, which could lead to identity theft.
- Remain vigilant and be suspicious. Look for the clues. Check the from address field on a suspicious email you receive. Sometimes this address is masked as a name from the organization and you need to tap/click/hover on it in the email viewer to see the real email address. Be on the lookout for the use of subdomains and misspelled words!
Method 2: Social Media
Ads and Tweets and Posts
- Beware of anyone offering home testing-kits. If States have shortages of testing kits, this is NOT a legitimate offer.
- Donate to charity by clicking this link on FB? Don’t click the link! Do your own research to find the organization’s website and be careful of new charities that are specific to the pandemic. Fake charities are popping up online every day.
- Sanitizer, masks, a cure – any company that actually has masks or sanitizers aren’t posting ads! They have buyers lined up down the street already. They will NOT be wasting money advertising right now. A cure that hasn’t made the news yet? Nope, real cures don’t need to advertise. They just show a journalist or scientist and the whole world rejoices. No stone is being left unturned. They are looking at every alternative medicine possibility. If it’s an ad, it’s not real.
- New Work-From-Home job opportunities? Tell your friends and families to be really careful and do lots of homework on this before responding. If they ask for your bank account # (usually to “deposit money for equipment” you will need to purchase) that’s a big red flag!
- That ad for cleaning your AC/HVAC filter to prevent spread – it’s a scam or someone who just wants to make money off your fear.
- Adding your small business to XYZ list or special federal grant money or…– there are a lot of scams targeting small business owners right now. Use good judgment and ask yourself "is this too good to be true?" If yes, walk away.