How to avoid common COVID-19 scams

By April 21, 2020Knowledge Center
hacker working
hacker working

According to the FTC, Coronavirus-related scams are growing rapidly. Texas is one of the top 5 states with FTC COVID related scams. Here are some of the most common ones to look out for:

Top 7 scams to avoid:

  • Refried refi: Scammers promising that you can refinance your mortgage
  • Debt redoubt: Student loan debt forgiveness…for a fee, of course
  • Social phishing: Scammers try to get your Social Security number (SSN) or other financial information by posing as someone familiar or authoritative.
  • Snake oil cures: Scammers guarantee you access to a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccines take several months or years to develop. There isn’t a known vaccine yet, and it’s unlikely we’ll see one for some time.
  • Medicare: Scammers claim they’re from Medicare with a health kit. They could also claim to be from the CDC with a vaccine kit.
  • Numbers game: Fraudsters say they are from the Social Security Administration and tell you there’s a problem with your SSN.
  • Lights out: Some scammers might even still be running some of their go-to favorites: tech support, utilities, or lower-your-interest-rate scams.

Tips to keep scammers at bay:

  • Hang up on robocalls: Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list. More likely, it’ll lead to more robocalls.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations, home test kits: Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
  • Fact-check information: Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. 
  • Know who you’re buying from: Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, or medical supplies when they don’t.
  • Don’t respond to unexpected or unknown texts and emails: Particularly if they are about checks from the government. Again, check reputable sources regarding government programs. If someone calls you out of the blue to help, they could be a scammer.
  • Think before you link in your email or online: Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. You could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Unofficial official sources: Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) websites.
  • Charity Chicanery: Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, gift cards, or wired money, don’t do it.

Don’t Become a Victim!

If you fear you are involved in a fraud scam, contact us at TFNB immediately. We’re here to help you. If you believe you may have already fallen victim to a fraud scam, please visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to file a complaint.

To see statistics related to COVID-19 scams, click here to see the official FTC report.

Want to know more? Read the full story from the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists.