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  • Staying Safe From Fraud During COVID-19

    Staying Safe From Fraud During COVID-19

    Your health is not the only thing you have to look out for right now.

    Amid everything else going on — social distancing, self-quarantining, and an unprecedented global pandemic — you have one more thing to watch out for: your personal and financial security. While the rest of the world is paying attention to the coronavirus, fraudsters and scammers have taken this opportunity to capitalize on fears and uncertainties by attempting to steal your personal information and your money.

    We’re here to help by breaking down the types of scams to look out for, how to avoid them and stay safe, and what to do if you’ve been scammed.

    Types of Coronavirus Scams 

    There are multiple scams to be aware of, and with so many methods of technology, fraudsters are reaching us on all different types of mediums. Thomas C. Edwards, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Secret Service told us what to look out for.

    Cyber scams come in the form of links to your email or text messages. These links will prompt you to buy something — like face masks or PPE — and then collect your personal information when you buy.

    Fraudulent websites have been created in light of the pandemic. These sites are also “selling” coronavirus health needs, like ventilators, but instead of sending you your item, the scammers on the other end will steal your information.

    Robo calls are on the rise. If you get a call from a bank, a credit union, or even the government asking for personal information, like your bank account number, the CVC code on the back of your credit card, or your Social Security Number, don’t give it to them. All of these institutions already have that information on file and do not need it. Plus, you should only give out info like this when you place the call — not when it comes to you.

    Donation scams are also incredibly prevalent right now. Before donating to an organization, check its credibility. There might be fraudsters on the other end collecting your credit card information and your funds.

    Staying Safe 

    Though there are plenty of scams to look out for, there are also plenty of ways to stay safe. Lori Hodges, Vice President of North America Risk for Visa laid it out for us.

    Don’t click unknown links. If you get an email or a text with a link you don’t recognize, the best thing to do is just click out of the window and delete the message.

    Don’t offer up personal information. If you get a call asking for personal or financial information, just hang up. If you’re afraid it was really your bank, your credit card issuer, or someone from the government trying to contact you, you can always call them back via their customer service number. It’s important to keep in mind that these agencies never ask for your information when they call you. They would only ask for it if you initiate the call.

    Future Scams 

    Edwards expects a rise in these scams going forward as the stimulus checks from the federal government are set to hit in the coming weeks. Fraudsters are going to be working tirelessly to get your information and reroute the money you are guaranteed to their own accounts.

     

    If you do fall victim to one of these scams, call your financial institution right away, says Hodges. They can help to rectify the fraudulent charges and get your money back ASAP. In the meantime, the best way you can protect yourself is by remaining hyper vigilant on any and all unknown communications you may receive.

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