Tips to avoid
The novel COVID-19 is causing more than just physical harm, it’s also inflicting financial harm as scammers attempt to take advantage of fears surrounding the virus. While the pandemic has proven to be a global crisis on many fronts, it has provided the unfortunate opportunity for hackers to exploit fears, isolation and uncertainty for their own gain. No one is immune from scammers who are looking for any possibility to deceive you into revealing your personal financial details.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other government agencies warn that scammers are setting up websites to sell fraudulent products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as formats to obtain your personal information.
The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and/or fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They may also be requesting donations to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments.
Here are some tips to avoid potential potential scammers and hackers:
- Don’t click on links from unknown sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus.
- Don't respond to texts, emails or calls about checks from the government.
- The government will never call to ask for money or your personal information like Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers.
- Be watchful of anyone requesting you to pay by Western Union or Money Gram, by crypto currency, or putting money on a gift card. The government and legitimate businesses will never tell you to pay using those methods.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations or home test kits. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for COVID-19, ask yourself: if a medical breakthrough is announced, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
- If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it's a robocall. Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes.
- Be mindful when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, do not donate in the manner.
- Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warns about online promotions, including on social media, claiming the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19 and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.