The National Cyber Security Alliance, a public/private partnership that focuses on privacy and security, provides a free StaySafeOnline library of information on current scams, cyber threats, remote working, disaster relief and more. The alliance is working to update this resource library as new resources become available. There are many scams related to the COVID-19 outbreak, ranging from scams trying to get your personal information to free Netflix offers to fake COVID-19 maps and websites. Here’s how to spot the scams and the best steps to take:
Stimulus Check Scams:
As the federal government prepares to send stimulus checks to Americans, scammers are already at work. Messages by phone, text, email and social media suggest that you might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant and that it’s necessary to first verify your identity to process your request. Other twists on the scam suggest that you can get more money or get your check faster if you share personal details and pay a small “processing fee.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission:
1. The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money.
2. The government will not contact you to ask for your Social Security number, bank account or credit card number.
3. These checks aren’t a reality yet. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
If you spot one of these scams, please contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
How to Avoid Other COVID-19 Scams:
To avoid becoming a victim, the FTC offers some additional tips:
1. Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam COVID-19 treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
2. Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. At this time, there are no FDA-authorized home test kits for COVID-19.
3. Fact-check information. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
4. Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
- Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer. The government is still working on details related to check distribution.
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
- Be wary of emails claiming to be from the CDC or other experts. For the most up-to-date information about the COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
- Do your homework when it comes to donations. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, don’t do it. The Department of Homeland Security provides info through its National Cyber Awareness System.
Taken from Patriot Insurance, Agency Blog, April 9, 2020