As we confront the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important to take steps to protect your health and that of others. It’s also important to protect yourself against scams related to COVID-19. Below are some common cons and how you can prevent becoming a victim to scammers.
Scammers may claim to be from the U.S. Department of the Treasury and promise to help you get COVID-19 related grants or checks in exchange for personal information. This is a scam.
Here’s what the Treasury Department says:
"If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. These are scams. Please contact the FBI at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx so that the scammers can be tracked and stopped."
Information about how the IRS will distribute economic impact payments may be found HERE.
Unfortunately, scammers use events like this pandemic to take advantage of your generosity. Many will even use names that resemble that of a real charity. What can you do? Here are a couple of tips:
Criminals seeking to obtain your sensitive personal and financial information may use robocalls and text messages to rob you.
Here are helpful tips from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about how to protect yourself from scams:
The Federal Trade Commission provides resources about how to avoid common scams, including products with unsupported claims about treating COVID-19, fake test kits, and scams targeting senior citizens, businesses, and others.
Visit the FTC’s website HERE to learn more about the scams they’ve uncovered and how to avoid becoming a victim of them.
Often, emails or texts from scammers contain ransomware or other malicious programs that are designed to steal your valuable personal information, including your social security number and login information for your bank accounts.
Help avoid this scam by keeping your software updated and using security software.
For more information, please visit the FTC’s website on Phishing scam.
Another way of scamming people is through misinformation and rumors. To be sure you have accurate information relating to COVID-19, use trusted sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization. The Federal Agency of Emergency Management (FEMA) has also released information on rumors related to COVID-19.
Please report COVID-19 related fraud schemes by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline toll-free at 1-866-720-5721 or by emailing email@example.com. If you think you’ve found a cyber scam, please submit the complaint to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.