COVID – 19 Scams

Beware of Coronavirus (COVID – 19) Scams

At times like this, it’s unfortunate to think that we not only have to protect our health, but we need to protect our personal and financial information from fraudsters as well.

Scam artists are making the rounds with all kinds of different scams.  Here are a few to beware of:

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small business owners – Fraudsters are calling and e-mailing small business owners, claiming to represent the SBA (Small Business Administration). They are urging business owners to apply for a PPP Loan right away through a certain website.  As a result, business owners are releasing their private personal and business information to fraudsters and receiving nothing in return.  The FTC is advising companies to be cautious of anyone offering to expedite or facilitate your ability to get a PPP loan. The federal government will not ask you to pay up front or ask for your Social Security, bank account or credit card number.

Phishing – Fraudsters send fake e-mails to lure unsuspecting victims into clicking on a link.  These e-mails claim to be from the CDC, World Health Organization, John Hopkins University, U.S.Small Business Administration, U.S. Federal Reserve or FEMA. Clicking on the link can allow fraudsters to steal identities or money, while delivering malware onto a computer.

If you receive an e-mail asking you to click on a link or go to another source, get out of the e-mail and verify the source before taking any action.

Economic Impact Checks (Stimulus Checks) – Economic Impact payments are starting to arrive, so be extremely vigilant in handling your personal and financial information.

Fraudsters are calling and asking for account information related to the stimulus checks. You do not need to set up a special account to receive your payment. According to the IRS, they will not call you and will be providing payment based on tax filing information.

  1. Most stimulus checks will be direct deposited.  If you are not set up for direct deposit with the IRS, you can submit your account information to the IRS through a secure portal, or you will be mailed a paper check.
  2. The IRS will not contact you via Facebook to confirm the amount of your economic impact check or the notify you that it has been deposited.  If you receive these messages, DO NOT respond or click on any links. You can confirm the arrival of your deposit by contacting your financial institution or by logging in to your account online.
  3. If you receive a check for more than you were expecting, with a request to send back the difference in the form of cash, gift cards or money transfers, destroy the check and don’t send any money.  The IRS will not send you more than the designated amount established by the Federal Government. 
  4. If you receive a call, text, e-mail or Facebook message from someone claiming you can receive additional money or receive your check faster, don’t respond. And, if you’re on the phone, hang up. The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money.
  5. If you receive a Facebook post containing a website link to “US Emergency Grants Federation”, do not click on this link. The Facebook post and the website promise additional stimulus money, as long as you pay a processing fee and provide your Social Security Number. These are bogus posts with a link to a bogus website. There are no additional grant funds and you will not pay anything upfront to get your stimulus money.
  6. Fraudsters are sending official – looking postcards with a password to be used online to “access” or “verify” payment or direct deposit information. Again…the IRS will not contact you to collect your personal or bank account information.
  7. Don’t fall victim to scammers who use “scare tactics” to coerce you into revealing information about your economic impact check.  Calls and e-mails include threats to suspend Social Security claims, among other things.

Fake Coronavirus MapsFraudsters are creating Coronavirus – related maps to resemble the popular John Hopkins’ COVID – 19 map. These maps can contain malware that will steal usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and other data stored on your computer. Check the URL address for accuracy on any Coronavirus website you’re accessing to ensure its validity.

Counterfeit treatments or equipment – Use caution when purchasing sanitizing products, personal protective equipment (PPE), like N95 respirator masks, goggles, full-face shields, protective gowns and gloves, or any items that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose or cure COVID – 19.

Visit cdc.gov/niosh, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency for more information.

Your physical and financial safety are a top priority.  Take every measure possible to protect them both. 

Content Sources: Federal Trade Commission; CUNA Mutual Group; American Banker; FTC; CDC