April 14, 2020
Unfortunately, we know that in times of challenge there are always people who prey on others. Today’s disaster is a pandemic, but we see the same scams when there are hurricanes or around tax filing deadlines. Many people are fearful or scared, but it’s this fear that makes us vulnerable.
Recently the Federal Trade Commission has warned Americans to beware of the potential scams that are proliferating. Here are some simple steps you can take that can help keep you safer:
- Hang up on robocalls from a caller you don’t recognize. Most robo-calls are illegal, but scammers are using them anyway to pitch fraudulent COVID-19 treatments and other schemes.
- When you get a robocall, don’t dial any number, even if the recording asks you to. When you “press a number to be removed from our list,” these scammers will probably just call you more.
- Ignore any offers you see online for COVID-19 vaccines or at-home test kits. No such thing exists for sale today.
- Disregard any texts or emails you receive about cash from the government. Stimulus checks will be coming directly from the Internal Revenue Service, beginning in mid-April. In fact, if your refund or payment for the 2018 or 2019 tax years was done via direct deposit, the IRS will deposit the money directly in your bank account. The Federal Trade Commission says that anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
- Delete any emails that claim to be from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or from experts who claim they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Web site of the CDC (www.cdc.gov).
- Be alert to the risk of malware and phishing scams. A legitimate company will never ask you to verify passwords or usernames via email.
- Keep an eye out for misspellings or grammatical mistakes. That’s a sure sign that the official-looking email originated from a suspicious source.
- Pay attention to a warning if your email client on your computer, phone or tablet tells you an email is suspicious. A lot of email clients can detect likely phishing or other suspicious emails. Pay attention!
The latest warning from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says:
Fraudsters often use the latest news developments to lure investors into scams. We have become aware of a number of Internet promotions claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
Please be alert to avoid any scams, and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!