WARNING! DANGER! BE CAREFUL! There’s so much to be concerned about in these uncertain days of COVID-19–and unfortunately financial scammers are using this time to take advantage of others. We at Better Financial Counseling want you to protect yourself from scams and scammers.
Today’s scams are preying on financial concerns and opportunities. They may impersonate the IRS, Social Security or the unemployment department for your state. They may send you fake checks or postcards asking you to verify your identity. Don’t fall for these. They’re also preying on fears of the virus. They may be a promoting bogus cures, or pretending to offer free home testing kits and health insurance. So, whether it’s a financial concern or a health concern, beware of scam artists exploiting these real needs.
What can you do to protect yourself?
1) SIGN UP FOR SCAM ALERTS at www.consumer.ftc.gov. Daily, the FTC is posting new scams and alerts for consumers.
2) BE SUSPICIOUS: Don’t respond to calls or texts that you don’t know. If you don’t know a phone number calling you, just don’t pick it up.
3) DONT SHARE: Never share your personal or financial information this includes bank accounts, social security numbers and other information that personally identifies you until you are CERTAIN it is required. Scammers will impersonate government agencies, so always seek out the agency apart from the information provided by the scammer to sure the request is legitimate.
4) TAKE YOUR TIME & SEEK TRUSTED ADVICE: Scammers are going to try to pressure you to take immediate action. They’re going to threaten dire consequences if you don’t. They are professionals and very good at making people feel desperate and concerned. Take some time and before you take any action or reveal and personal information, seek the advice of a trusted friend or family member to help you think through the situation.
5) GO DIRECT: Scammers will spoof phone numbers to look like they’re coming from a federal agency. They can also use websites are e-mails very similar to your friends or your trusted organizations. Always directly contact the charity, government agency or people requesting help. Sadly, scammers have even impersonated church ministers and grandchildren.
Just like times are changing scammers change their scams to fit the times, so be knowledgeable and careful, especially in these times.