As COVID-19 continues to impact the U.S., there has also been an alarming increase in fraudulent activity related to the pandemic. As of June 2020, the FTC reported receiving more than 103,000 fraud complaints due to COVID-19, totaling $68.11 million in total fraud loss. To help you safeguard your money, we’ve highlighted five scams and how to avoid them:
Scam #1: Expedited Stimulus Checks
The IRS began distributing economic impact stimulus checks on April 13 through direct deposit, on April 24 by mail, and they will continue distribution through September 2020. If you have yet to receive your stimulus payment, you may receive an email or phone call stating you can expedite the delivery of your payment or increase your stimulus check amount. Please don’t fall for any request like this as it’s a scam. Instead, if you have questions, visit https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment. You can see the amount you’ll be paid, an estimated time when you should receive your payment, and how it will be paid to you (direct deposit or mailed check).
Scam #2: Miracle Cures
You may receive emails, calls, or find a site online that claims to provide a “cure” for the coronavirus. While it may be tempting to try it out, it’s a scam. There is no cure or treatment for the virus at this time. Unless you receive advice from your health care professional or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ignore it.
Scam #3: Government-issued Online COVID-19 Testing
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first “at-home” test for COVID-19; however, if you find someone selling these tests online, it’s likely a scam. To stay safe, consult your health care professional before taking any COVID-19 test and follow the instructions carefully.
Scam #4: Product and Service Claims
When COVID-19 hit, many essential household supplies, such as toilet paper and sanitizing wipes or sprays, became hot commodities. Unfortunately, many fraudulent businesses claimed to have these products in stock and charged significantly marked-up prices to obtain them. And in some cases, consumers or companies that purchased these products never received them.
Additionally, you may have received texts or phone calls about product offers touting low-priced health insurance, student loan payment plans and debt consolidation solutions. All you need to do is provide your financial information upfront to accept a special offer, defer payment, or use the solution provided.
How can you avoid being a victim of this scam? Follow these simple rules:
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t pay more for an item online than you would in a store (excluding shipping).
- If you receive information asking for your financial information via text or email, it’s likely a scam. Call your health insurance provider or lender to ask about options available to you.
- Never click on a link or attachment via email or text.
- Hang up on anyone calling you for personal financial information, especially if you didn’t initiate the call.
Scam #5: Fake Charities and Donations
Fake charities always pop up during times of crisis, and the pandemic is no different. One of the best ways to counter this type of fraud is to donate only to familiar charities or groups. That way, you can be sure your money is going where it should go to help others in times of crisis.
Report Any Fraudulent Activity on Your Account
If you have any questions or concerns about your account, please feel free to contact us. We’re here to clear up any issues you may have and help you manage and protect your finances in our changing economy. If you believe you’ve been a victim of fraud, or you notice an unauthorized transaction in your account, please notify us immediately at 877.759.7939.