Stay Safe Online
There are many questions regarding COVID-19 surrounding how to stay safe, when we can expect to get back to normal life and short- and long-term economic impact of the pandemic. This need for answers makes us particularly vulnerable as we turn to the Internet, email, and social media to try to make sense of the endless amounts of information available.
With everything else that’s going on right now, the last thing you need is to fall victim to a Coronavirus scam. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an ongoing list of common ways scammers are taking advantage of people during this pandemic, and we want to be sure you are made aware of those to keep yourself safe financially.
You must act now! messages. Emails or phone calls that demand immediate action are usually fraudulent. Look for legitimate updates from credible sources such as government websites or official press conferences. Official entities will NOT send emails that say: “You’re at risk for COVID-19, click here!”
Requests for your personal info. Don’t ever give your personal information by clicking email links or over the phone with callers. This is called phishing. Always visit a company’s secure website to share or update any information.
Offers to help get you money. Scammers thrive with things like the recent changes to unemployment insurance and stimulus checks. It opens the door for them to contact you offering to help get you what you’re owed. Don’t respond to messages claiming to get you checks from the government.
Emails with unusually formal wording. One recent Coronavirus phish scam began with “Sir/Madam”—a salutation that’s weirdly formal for today’s business emails. Again, if it doesn’t seem like it’s a trusted source, don’t trust it. Always confirm information in emails by going to the company’s secure website.
Vaccination and home test kits offers. Scammers are collecting people’s credit card information by offering bogus test kits and treatments for the Coronavirus. As of now, these things do not exist. Visit the FDA for more information.
Inaccurate, forwarded messages. Sometimes the people you love and trust pass along information to you. Just because they’ve forwarded it doesn’t mean it’s valid. Always fact check the information with reliable sources.
Fraudulent online websites. In times like these when some resources are scarce, online sellers may claim to be selling cleaning, medical or health supplies when they actually aren’t. Use these best practices for online purchases.
Bogus charities and crowd funding sites. Always look into any organization that’s requesting donations, especially ones that only accept cash, gift cards or by wiring money. Don’t ever feel pressured to give, and follow these tips for donating wisely.
For a complete list of the ways scammers are taking advantage of Coronavirus fears, visit the FTC’s Coronavirus Scams webpage. And if you think you’ve fallen victim to a Coronavirus scam or attempted fraud, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud or the FBI. Any cyber scams should be reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
As always, please pass along this article to anyone you think would benefit from the information.
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