When natural disasters or events like the COVID-19 outbreak occur, unfortunately, there is a rise in scams. Criminals see this as an opportunity to profit, and to trick the fearful and unsuspecting out of their money. During these difficult times, we recommend that members use caution. Below are the most popular scams that we have seen a rise in since Coronavirus.
Rise of Coronavirus Scams:
Fake Financial Institutions: Criminals are impersonating financial institutions and are asking you to send them money, make wire transfers, get a prepaid debit card, purchase a gift card, etc.
Phishing: Cybercriminals have impersonated the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Controls (CDC), and even as local schools in an attempt to click on an email link that allows them to steal your personal information right from your computer.
Fake Charities: A common scam that increases when a crisis occurs is the phony charity asking for donations for a loved one or, as seen recently, vaccines for the children of China.
Vaccination hoaxes: False information is circulating online, through emails, and on social media, promising a bogus cure for the Coronavirus.
Health Insurance Scams: Criminals will call to offer health insurance to protect you and your family during the outbreak. Typically, the health insurance offered will be ‘more affordable’ or in ‘your budget.’
To reduce the risk of scams and fraud, please follow these guidelines to help keep your finances secure:
Personal Information: Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s by phone, email, on social media, or even in person. Information that should never be shared unless you know it’s through a secured method is credit card information, your birth date, or your Social Security Number.
Vaccination hoaxes: Ignore offers for vaccinations promoting prevention, treatment, and cures regarding the Coronavirus.
Charities: Do your research on charitable donations for relief efforts. Also, never feel pressured to act immediately. If you feel pressured, then it probably isn’t a legitimate charity.
We have heard from the government about their relief efforts that will include Stimulus Checks to be mailed or deposited to the public. While the details and reports have not been confirmed, scammers will use the uncertainty to prey on people. It is essential to keep these tips in mind:
- You will not have to pay upfront to get a stimulus check.
- As mentioned before, never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited.
- If you are pressured to take action to get a stimulus check, do not take that action.