As a result of COVID-19, millions of Americans will be seeking financial relief from the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act.” Unfortunately, it’s also the latest opportunity for bad folks to try to steal data, money, or identifications.
It’s important to do your research before clicking on links appearing to provide information on the coronavirus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign, purchasing products online, or giving up personal information to receive money or other benefits.
Some basic reminders regarding phishing emails or phone calls:
- An email should not solicit an emotional response!
- If you are not expecting the email – be cautious.
- Hover over links to see what URL the link takes you to.
- Take notice of any obvious grammar or spelling errors:
- Strange sentence structures
- Generic greeting (like “Hello, Sir/Madam”)
- Urgent language as though it’s attempting to pressure you into giving up your information to avert some sort of data disaster
- Generic closing
- Caller ID is easily spoofed. Do not rely on caller ID.
- Validate any caller and do not follow the caller’s request to navigate to a website to verify anything.
Assume every unsolicited effort to reach you or sell you something should be viewed with extreme skepticism. People should vet the offer by hanging up the phone, deleting the emails and then reaching out to the entity independently if indeed it is a firm you do business with. Of course, the best response to scammers is no response at all. – Linda Sherry, director of consumer advocacy group Consumer Action
Scams linked to COVID-19 to also be aware of:
- Treatment scams: Scammers are selling fake vaccines, medicines, tests, and cures for COVID-19.
- Supply scams: Scammers are claiming they have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, health, and medical supplies. When an order is placed, the scammer takes the money and never delivers the order.
- Charity scams: Scammers are fraudulently soliciting donations for non-existent charities to help people affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Scammers often use names that are similar to the names of real charities.
- Phishing scams: Scammers, posing as national and global health authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending fake emails or texts to trick the recipient into sharing their personal information, including account numbers, Social Security numbers, or login IDs and passwords.
- App scams: Scammers are creating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and steal personal information.
- Provider scams: Scammers pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19 and demand payment for that treatment.
- Investment scams: Scammers are promoting the stock of small companies, which have limited publicly-available information, using false or misleading claims that the companies’ stock will increase dramatically due to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as claims that a company can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19.
- Price gouging: Individuals and businesses selling essential goods, like hand sanitizer, for significantly higher prices than in a non-emergency setting.
Practice proper online security, which includes backing up your personal data and using two-factor authentication whenever you can. This makes it harder for scammers to gain access to your accounts, even if they do happen to figure out your username or password. If you are suspicious about banking fraud, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 855-855-3268.