When it comes to scammers, there is no amount of warning and repetition that is too much to hear about during these times of frightened consumers and spikes in COVID19 infections. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plainly spells out the types of scams to look out for, including fraudulent emails and calls, offers of vaccinations and home test kits (neither are legit), robocalls, and requests for donations to phony charities.
How to Detect Coronavirus Stimulus Payment Scams
Alavaro Puig, Consumer Education Specialist for the FTC offers tips regarding Coronavirus stimulus payment scams if more are forthcoming: (1) use only irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS and NEVER in response to a call, text or email. (2) The IRS will not contact you by any of those methods, and social media to social media messaging is something they NEVER use. Never give out your Social Security number, bank account number, or government benefits debit card account number by email or phone. Anyone asking for any of them are scammers only “phishing” for your information. (3) Anyone telling you to deposit any government stimulus check or any other kind of government check and then send them money because they say they overpaid you is a fake. Report any of these activities to its.gov/complaint.
Ignore Offers Related to COVID-19
The FTC warns you to ignore offers for anything related to COVID19, such as vaccinations and home test kits. Anyone coming to your door or contacting you by email or phone regarding anything COVID-related are scammers. When any of these things become a reality, you will hear about it everywhere. Scammers are also busy doing robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes, Just hang up and again, report what you can to the FTC.
Watch Out for Suspicious Emails
Watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO. Don’t click on unfamiliar links. Phishing emails and texts often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment — things like they have noticed suspicious activity and log-in attempts, asking you to confirm personal information, telling you you are eligible for a government refund or offering you a coupon for something for free.
Research on Donation Requests
And lastly, when you want your donation to count toward any worthy cause related to COVID or any other cause, do some research and planning. Do NOT respond to people saying they are looking for donations to a charity you have never heard of. To make sure the charity you want to help out is legit, use online sources such as Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, GuideStar or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.
Source: ftc.gov | TBWS