Beware these common scams, online scams and otherwise. In addition to new “Corona Cons” pitching bogus cures and treatments for COVID-19, the pandemic has to other types of scams including these.
Banking and Financial Online Scams
Scammers try to hook you into giving your information so they can set up financial accounts in your name. Be wary of coronavirus-themed phishing emails. Avoid phone calls pitching work-at-home schemes or offering help getting unemployment benefits. Watch out for any email that asks you to provide credentials. Protect your account numbers, passwords, and log-ins. Scammers want them so they can impersonate you and use your identity to create new bank or credit card accounts or access existing ones. (Source: FBI)
Online Scams While Shopping
More and more people are shopping online another rich source of online scams. That means long-standing schemes to steal your information from online stores are a bigger problem than ever. Small-business websites are especially vulnerable right now. Websites of small local businesses that rushed to adapt e-commerce might not have adequate protections to safeguard your information. Other shopping scams to watch out for: exorbitantly priced masks, and sellers claiming to have products, such as hand sanitizer, that are in demand but hard to come by. You place an order, but your product never arrives.
Predatory Phone Calls
Beware common telemarketing scams preying on fears about the pandemic. Schemes include telemarketers offering “free” testing kits – but asking for credit card Information and charging high prices for shipping. HVAC cleaning services that falsely claim to protect you are more common. Fake debt-collection robocalls asking for personal information or payment on debts you don’t owe are on the rise.
Fraudsters are also ready to take advantage of your generosity during the pandemic. They may reach you by mail, email, or a phone call, using names that sound like real charities. They play on your emotions and ask you to donate by giving up your credit card or trying to get you to wire money.
Healthcare Online Scams
Beware these common medical online scams and on your doorstep. Some cons go door to door or call offering free medical services; in-home COVID-19 test kits or appointments for future COVID-19 vaccinations. They claim to represent a government agency, a public health agency, or an insurance company and request personal information such as insurance numbers, Medicare IDs, and credit card numbers.
Another ploy is to suggest that you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus and that your personal information is needed for public health purposes. Once they have your medical information, they use it to impersonate you to obtain medical care for themselves or others, or bill for fraudulent medical goods or services.
Yes, scammers are also taking advantage of animal lovers. During quarantine, many have turned to the internet to look for a pet. Only later to find out that the animal they paid for does not exist. Puppy scams are not new. The pandemic provides new opportunities to tack on special fees or make excuses about why the pet can not be seen in person before before you are conned.
Some scams are obvious. You are asked to send cash, or out of nowhere you are presented with an offer that sounds too good to be true. The bad guys work hard to fool you and they are good at it. The number of cases of online shopping fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission jumped by more than 60 percent in the first in the first six month of 2020 compared with the same time last year. (source: Federal Trade Commission)
Protect yourself by paying attention to these tell-tale signs.
Scammers Use Scare Tactics
Scammers used to try and gain your trust. Now they also threaten and intimidate, often pretending to work for government agencies like the IRS or the Social Security Administration, and use threats of fines or suspension of benefits to get you to do what they want.
The Attachments Or Links Look Odd
Unsolicited emails and texts often come with links or attachments that contain malware. Malicious programs which damage your device or steal your personal information. Look at links carefully before you click. Hover your pointer over the link to reveal its full address. A link ending in “.ru,” for example, means the the site was registered in Russia, the source of many scams. Bottom line: do not open attachments in emails you are not expecting or from senders you don’t recognize.
The Site Address Has Misspellings
This is another give-away to bogus websites and would be thieves. Use the hover technique to see the full address. If is off or wrong in some way, take it as a sign that it is not trustworthy.
When In Doubt, Reach Out
If, for any reason, you are not sure about an offer, a text, or an email talk to someone else before you do anything. If a solicitor knocks on your door and you don’t recognize them, don’t open the door. You can always reach out to your Financial Advisor for an objective perspective.