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Your Time, Your Money: Avoiding COVID-19 Scams

by Garrett Kunz   ·  Mar 25, 2020  

Scammers, fraudsters, and other criminals are taking advantage of rapidly changing data and facts associated with COVID-19, both in the workplace and in our homes. Government agencies, corporations, and news outlets continue to warn individuals to be mindful of increased fraudulent activities during these uncertain times.

These scams, which can be sent via email, text message, and social media claim to provide COVID-19 updates, sell products, ask for charitable donations or reference government aid packages. These messages appear to be legitimate in nature but seek to fraudulently obtain personal information, financial gain, and create panic. Use these tips to identify and avoid scams:

Suspicious Emails

Watch for emails claiming to be from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts claiming to have inside information on the virus. There are currently no vaccines, potions, lozenges, or other prescriptions available online or in-store to treat or cure COVID-19

Donating to Charities or Crowdfunding

Do your homework prior to donating to charities or crowdfunding sites. A simple way to do this is by Googling reviews of the charity. Confirm the validity of the organization as fraudsters are now advertising fake charities. Do not let anyone rush you into a donation, particularly those who ask for cash, gift cards, or wiring of funds. If you’re questioning the intentions of an organization, call or email us and we can help potentially check the validity of it.

Links and Email Attachments

Do not click on links or open attachments from sources you do not know. Cybercriminals are using the COVID-19 headline as a tactic to spread computer viruses and steal information. Do not provide personal information, payment information or sensitive workplace information via suspicious email addresses.

Urgent Demands or Emergency Requests

Emergency requests are especially scary during times of uncertainty. Be suspicious of urgent demands and emergency requests. The health and safety of you and your family is the top priority. Do not fall for scammers threatening fees/fines or health concerns in your community.

If you receive an email warning of health outbreaks or concerns in your community, DO NOT immediately click any links. Thoroughly read the email for any grammatical errors, check the email address, and confirm on your local government or the CDC’s website. Important public information will most likely be posted on their website before being sent via email.

Too Good to Be True

If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Many individuals have begun to receive robocalls and social media requests for social security numbers, banking information, and gift cards. Scammers promise high paying work-from-home opportunities, free cleaning, as well as COVID-19 protection in exchange for payment and sensitive information.

Scammer Aid Packages

Be mindful of scammers using government aid packages for criminal gain. Lawmakers have announced plans to send Americans checks to assist with the financial burden of the virus, with details still in discussion. The government will not request payment, nor will anyone reach out requesting personally sensitive health or financial information in exchange for financial support.

Trusted Sources

Obtain your news from a trusted source. Be mindful of text message scams, social media polls and fraudulent email accounts sharing false information to create panic. Before acting on information, review its source and check a trusted news outlet to confirm its validity.

When in doubt, ask a coworker, family member, or friend for their opinion. Two sets of eyes are better than one. If you believe you have fallen victim of a scam, call your local police at their non-emergency number and consider reporting to the FBI’s IC3 Internet Crime Database.

We’re Here To Help

Scams come in many different shapes and styles. If you ever feel uncertain about something, contact us and we’ll walk through it together. Remember, by following a few simple steps, you can better protect yourself, including:

  1. Do not give into demanding pressure
  2. Do the research, double-check emails, phone numbers, or social media accounts before interacting with suspicious contacts
  3. Do not give out personal or financial information

If you have any questions or concerns during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out.

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