It is truly unfortunately that criminals take advantage of people during hard times. The unprecedented COVID-19 is no exception. Below is a list of COVID-19 Scams we have heard about over the last several months.
Stimulus Check Scams
First Option Bank sent out an email with the following IRS scams:
“Offer early access to payment. Many people have received their stimulus checks, but there is no exact timeline for when eligible consumers will receive economic impact payments. Anyone who promises early or fast payment in exchange for personal information is most likely a scammer.
Use suspicious phrases. The IRS has stated that the official term for payments is “economic impact payment.” If you receive any correspondence using the phrases “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment,” it may be a clue that a fraudster trying to take your cash.
Send “phishy” emails or texts. Government agencies will never correspond through email or text message. If you receive a message with a link asking you to register online in order to receive your economic impact payment, you are most likely being scammed. Do not click on the link.
Make bogus phone calls and texts asking for personal information. Consumers do not need to take any action to receive their economic impact payment. If you receive a phone call or text from someone claiming to be from your bank or a government agency asking to verify your personal information, hang up immediately and call your bank or report it to the IRS.
Mail a phony check. Some scammers will send out fake checks—with either the correct or incorrect economic impact payment amount—and require the recipient to verify personal information in order to cash it. The only mail correspondence you should receive will come from the IRS in the form of a letter with information on how the economic impact payment was made and how to report any failure to receive the payment.”
Social Media Scams
LinkedIn has recently been hacked by scammers who use your personal account to send out an email to everyone on your LinkedIn address. The email simply says, “Hi, hope you are doing well” and then provides a link for you to open to “apply” for a job opportunity. Don’t open the link. Let the person know you received the message and change your password.
Be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19. Don’t open any links sent to you in any form until you verify it with the sender.
Other Common Scams
Phishing and supply scams. Scammers impersonate health organizations and businesses to gather personal and financial information or sell fake test kits, supplies, vaccines or cures for the COVID-19.
Charity scams. Fraudsters seek donations for illegitimate or non-existent organizations.
Malware scams. Delivery of malware through “virus-tracking apps” or sensationalized news reports.
Provider scams. Scammers impersonate doctors and hospital staff and contact victim claiming to have treated a relative or friend for COVID-19 and demand payment for treatment.
Bank/FDIC scams: Scammers impersonate FDIC or bank employees and falsely claim that banks are limiting access to deposits or that there are security issues with bank deposits.
Investment scams. These are often styled as “research reports” and claim that products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19.
Phone Number Spoofs
Scammers can spoof phone numbers, meaning their caller id can masquerade as someone else . . . like a local number. The caller ID could also look as it were coming from your bank or friend. If you receive a call from anyone asking for sensitive information, please do NOT provide it to them.
In Summary about COVID-19 Scams
Keep confidential information confidential. Never provide information over the phone, through text, through email, or through social media.
If someone calls you, texts you, emails you or sends you a link through messenger or other social media. Don’t click on it.
Criminals are savvy. They know exactly how to appeal to our emotions amid uncertain times. If you have ANY doubt, don’t respond. Then contact the person, institution, organization or business who you think was trying to call you.