In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many that are facing challenges, both financial and otherwise. Unfortunately, these challenges have created opportunities for fraudsters to prey on those who are scared or in need.
Here are some of the COVID-19 related scams we are seeing, along with some tips on how to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
Work from Home / Online Loan Assistance
Work from home scams have been around for many years now, but with more people looking for ways to supplement their incomes, the opportunity to fall victim to these scams has also increased. Remember that real job opportunities will have you follow a proper hiring process, will not ask you to provide mobile or online banking login credentials, and will not ask you to send money to others based off checks they have sent to you or your account for deposit.
Similarly, legitimate loans that you find through online sites will not ask for mobile or online banking login credentials to process the loan proceeds.
Phishing and Charity Scams
These emails and texts are legitimate-looking communications that appear to be from known organizations such as your financial institution, the World Health Organization (WHO), Center of Disease Control (CDC), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and more. The next time you receive a text message, email, or a call from an unknown number, be very careful in responding or taking the call. Some examples are:
Cardholder “Fraud” Communication
During this pandemic, we have seen an increase in scammers pretending to be financial institution employees. Using “spoofed” phone numbers from the financial institution to appear legitimate, fraudsters are contacting people via phone or text and acting as if they are trying to protect cardholders from fraud on their credit card or debit card. Their goal is to deceive you into revealing account information.
If you receive a text or phone call from someone that is saying they are from Scott Credit Union or a card processor, be very cautious about sharing any information. Instead, call Scott Credit Union directly at 618-345-1000 or 800-888-4728.
COVID-19 Cures/Testing Kits
Preying off their victims fears and giving them false hope, many scammers are claiming they have a vaccine or cure for the coronavirus when no such treatment exists. They may even ask you to donate to their “research team” that’s just on the verge of discovering a cure. Be skeptical of these claims, especially if they are coming from a company you’ve never heard of. For more information, see “Beware of Covid-19 Cure Scams”
Unfortunately, like with most large-scale public emergencies, there are always those looking to take advantage of people’s generosity. Fraudsters are requesting donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money. Most legitimate charities will request donations by check or credit/debit card. Check out the FTC’s page on charitable scams for more tips and information on these scams.
COVID-19 Stimulus Checks/Payments
Fraudsters are sending texts/emails, and calling individuals requesting personal information and bank account information, in order “to process” the COVID-19 stimulus checks. As a reminder, the IRS will never request your personal information through email, U.S. mail, live or automated phone call, or text message.
Remember: Never give private information such as your social security number, credit card number, or account details over the phone or via text unless you initiated the contact and you know the business is legitimate. For more tips on protecting yourself from scams, visit our Security Page.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Coronavirus Advice for Consumers