In the last month, the scammers have been working overtime. With the COVID-19 crisis and literally billions of dollars in stimulus money available, many of the “classic” scams associated with tax refunds have been reimagined for the Coronavirus.
So, right now, if you haven’t been already, be careful with respect to any information your receive via text, email, or phone calls related to COVID-19.
There are reports of thousands of these having occurred and nearly half of them mention that money and data has been lost or stolen.
Let’s look at some of the most common that have been identified:
- The first one is a text message that tells the recipient they have come into contact with a person infected with COVID-19. This text message has a hyperlink in it to “provide information” and when the recipient opens the link? A virus is dropped into the user’s device to share personal data.
- Another popular scam – taken directly from the IRS scammers – is impersonating a governmental agency (or an agency that sounds like it’s a part of the Federal government). One such call referenced the “FCC Financial Care Center” to offer up to $30,000 in COVID-19 relief. Of course, the FCC – the Federal Communication Commission – has no funds nor any systems to share them.
- At this time, many of the scams seem to revolve around small businesses due to the uncertainty of where and how Federal aid from the stimulus bills will be paid out. “Real” information will only originate from the SBA or from a bank the business owner has already contracted with.
- Lastly, there are plenty of scams revolving around home testing kits, “sanitation” products to kill the virus, and health insurance scams. As with anything relating to money, it’s wise to simply be smart and do your own research before buying anything that sounds too good to be true.
This is a scary and strange time, and whenever you add in uncertainty to an economy, you’ll get scammers and illicit activity. If you are worried about protecting your family and finances, then the best advice is the advice we’ve always given, “Trust and verify.”
All the best-