Since the pandemic began, bad guys have preyed on fears surrounding COVID-19. They take advantage of emotions and urgency, so you'll send money, share personal information, or possibly even share your log-in credentials at work.
HOW IT WORKS
These scams may use phone calls, emails, texts or social media posts. They look official, like they are from a government agency, health agency or a company's IT department. Their message may promise important information or safety products, or offer help securing the federal stimulus funds or with vaccination scheduling.
Another red flag is if the offer includes a small “processing fee,” payable using a prepaid debit or gift card.
No matter the scam their goal is simply to get your money, your information – or both.
What To Do
- Be wary of any emails, texts or phone calls that are supposedly from the IRS, Treasury Department, a state unemployment benefits agency, local or national health organizations, etc., saying they have information about stimulus payments or vaccinations. Remember, government agencies will not ask you to wire money, pay with a gift card or share personal information through email.
- Only open emails and texts from a sender you know and trust. This goes for opening attachments and following links, too. Bad guys can use files and links to install malware on your computer or trick you into giving them information. You should also be careful of any emails or texts that have instructions encouraging you to click a link to "request benefit payments" or "verify" your personal information.
- Ignore incoming calls and texts from numbers you do not recognize. If you do answer, and it sounds like a scam, hang up immediately. Don’t try to outsmart the bad guy by giving out wrong information. Just hang up. You can also initiate a separate means of communication. For instance, call the agency back at a number listed on their official site, rather than replying directly to a call or email.
- Don't share personal information, like passwords, credit card numbers, or bank account information over the phone, in an email or in a text. And do not send money to someone you do not really know.
- If you receive a suspicious text message, forward it to 7726.
- Regularly check your accounts and report any suspicious or fraudulent activity immediately.
- Verify any websites you visit for information are secure. Learn more with this blog.