How to Avoid COVID-19 Related Scams

Authored By: USMFCU on 5/13/2020

phone call from unknown

With the onset of the pandemic there has been a precipitous rise of COVID-19 related scams that are aimed at taking the money, identity, or sensitive files of innocent individuals. From January 1 until now, the Federal Trade Commission has gotten over 38,675 scam reports related to COVID-19, and people reported losing $27.24 million dollars to fraud. As your credit union and strategic partner in all financial aspects, USMFCU would like to provide you with some tips to avoid these scams amid the pandemic:

Verify all “Government Entities”

A lot of these scams are centered around scammers pretending to be government entities providing some sort of COVID-19 relief. They may be promising to get you your stimulus check faster, promising additional grants, asking for personal information, or more. If the person you are speaking with tells you that you must give any personal financial information or pay an advance fee, please be aware that this is likely a scam. Don’t give out your personal information or money. If you need to check on a matter, call the organization directly.

Avoid “Phishing” emails

Phishing emails are emails sent by scammers that are meant to gather your sensitive information. With the recent pandemic, cybercriminals are sending emails and are claiming to be from legitimate organizations with information about the coronavirus. The email message might then contain a link which will download dangerous software onto your device and allow them to take control of your computer, access your sensitive information, or even log your keystrokes. All of which could lead to identity theft. To avoid these types of scams always be sure to check the email address of the sender. Does it look legitimate? Also look for spelling errors, any requests for personal information, and emails that are very urgent in tone. If you’re not sure whether an email is legitimate or not, contact the organization directly from their website contact information. Do not reply to their email and do not click on any links in the email. 

Beware of Phone Scammers

You may have already noticed an increase in phone scams recently. These callers may tell you that they can provide home COVID-19 testing kits or promote fake cures. Be sure to be careful with any phone calls from numbers that you don’t recognize, and do not give any personal information over the phone if you haven’t already confirmed their identity. Scammers will also text you with information, do not click on any links and do not reply to the message unless the number is verified. 

COVID-19 has been a trying time for the entire planet, and these scams do not make things any better. However, with the right discernment and caution, you can avoid losing money or personal information. USMFCU is always here to support you as well, and if you have any questions please feel free to call us at 586-756-3300.

More information is available from Federal Trade Commission, click here to view. 

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