How to Avoid These Top 10 Coronavirus-Related Scams
It’s important to protect yourself during a pandemic, including your personal and financial information. Unfortunately, there will always be scammers who wait for difficult times to try to exploit people amid the confusion. Here are some of the recent scams to be aware of and some resources to protect yourself:
1. Cure/prevention supply scams:
These scams often come in the form of phishing emails pretending to offer a cure for the virus or prevention/remedy supplies. These are fake. Scammers rely on making money from people purchasing these false goods or provide links in these emails that can install malware on your device, exposing more of your personal and financial information.
2. Social media quizzes:
While spending more time at home, many people are looking for fun ways to engage with friends and family. Beware of social media quizzes that encourage you to answer a bunch of questions with personal information. Answering these questions could expose vital information to cyber criminals who may use this information to determine your passwords, login credentials, or security questions. This information is also potentially helpful for someone attempting to impersonate you over the phone with your financial institution.
3. Stock scams:
Some scammers are taking advantage of uncertainty in the stock market by making claims that certain companies will be producing coronavirus supplies and buying a bunch of that company’s stock. As other rush in to buy that stock as well, the value skyrockets. The scammers then sell their shares at a high value before the stock collapses again.
4. Fake donations:
Fake charities and donation funds are common when a crisis hits. Only donate money when you feel confident in the reputation of the charity or donation recipient.
5. Phishing emails from the IRS or government:
Neither the IRS nor the government will email you asking for personal or financial information. Never click on links in emails appearing to be from the government, or submit personal or financial information electronically.
6. Stimulus check scams:
If stimulus money is going to be sent, the government will make an announcement and you’ll find information about the delivery from reliable news sources only. Do not trust social media content or offers by email, phone, or text that claim to speed up delivery of the money or determine/increase the amount you’ll receive.
7. Predatory lending and scam lenders:
Be conscious of who you borrow money from. If you find yourself needing to borrow money, ensure you trust only reliable sources for loans and avoid loans with very high interest rates. It’s important to always do your research.
8. Buying a home or renting:
Be cautious about purchasing a new home or signing a rental agreement without having seen the residence first. Due to social distancing, it can be difficult or impossible to go tour the house or apartment. Research carefully and avoid making hasty decisions without collecting all the necessary information.
9. Census scams:
The Census Bureau will not email you asking for personal information, they will only share information about processes and procedures. Do not click on links in emails asking you to submit your census information. Expect most census information to come via standard mail. You can also visit the Census Bureau website for updated timelines and information.
10. General misinformation:
Fake communications have gone out encouraging people to take immediate actions, such as stocking up on groceries. These communications can cause anxiety and increase panic. Double check all information with reliable news sources. Check your state and local government websites for accurate, up-to-date information.