Scammers seem to pop up anywhere there’s an opportunity to profit, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. In recent weeks several organizations are reporting a variety of scams attempting to take advantage of the American public. Here at Royal Credit Union, we’re warning our Members to be wary of suspicious communications or activity. We also wanted to share some common themes used by COVID-19 scammers.
Common COVID-19 Scams
Scam activity related to COVID-19 can take several different forms, but one common theme is a government agency attempting to contact you for a reason connected to the pandemic. For example, Social Security beneficiaries report receiving a postal mail letter advising them that Social Security payments will be stopped during the pandemic unless they call a number and provide their personal information.
Scammers have claimed to be representing many other organizations and agencies. Fraudsters have been known to impersonate someone from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the World Health Organization (WHO), or even charitable organizations.
In these scams, the perpetrators are either seeking access to your personal information or asking for funds outright. The attacker wants to play on your trust of a reputable organization and then profit by using your identity or your money.
A second common type of fraud relies on the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Scammers are attempting to lure people into providing personal information for work-at-home opportunities. Submitting your resume and other personally identifying information like your social security number are legitimate steps for most jobs, but sadly scammers are after your personal information in order to steal your identity.
How To Avoid COVID-19 Scams
Following some common-sense rules will help you avoid falling victim to these types of scammers.
- Be suspicious of communications you didn’t expect. If you get a phone call or email from someone you don’t know or an organization you don’t have a relationship with, you should treat the communication with caution.
- Don’t open attachments or click links in emails if they are from a sender you don’t know.
- Don’t give out your personal information in response to an email or an automated phone call.
- Verify the web address you are visiting is the real website. For example, if a link takes you to cdc.in.com instead of cdc.gov, it’s likely that you aren’t at the real CDC website. Searching for an organization’s website using a search engine or typing the organization’s website address into your browser address bar is one way to avoid this type of website impersonation.
- Carefully research work-at-home opportunities to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company.
Another Type Of COVID-19 Fraud
Lastly, we wanted to share another type of scam that is specifically related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Phony cures, vaccines, and even fake personal protective equipment are popping up for sale online. With no current cure and a shortage of masks, gloves, and sanitizer, you might be tempted to try ordering these counterfeit products for yourself or your family. Do your research before ordering personal protective equipment from a reputable seller, and don’t expect to find a miracle cure or vaccine that has somehow been ignored by the CDC and mainstream media.
Be Aware And Be Safe
The bottom line is that it’s ok to be skeptical of any type of communication, whether it’s a scam or not. If you ask questions, legitimate organizations can provide answers to put your mind at ease. Royal Credit Union is also an excellent resource if you have a question. We’re here to help you recognize scam attempts, especially financial scams, and deal with them appropriately. If you need help determining if a communication is legitimate or if you believe you have been a victim of identity theft, please contact us so we can help.