Protect yourself from these COVID-19 scams.
10. Stimulus Payment Scams
If you get an email asking for your personal information so you can get updates on the status of your stimulus payment, don’t respond to it. Here’s the thing: the IRS already has a website where you can check on your stimulus payment status.
They will NEVER email, call or text you asking for your personal information. You also need to beware of phishing scams informing you that someone attempted to log in to the IRS website using your information.
The email will ask you to confirm your personal information. Once you do, the scammer will be able to steal your usernames and passwords easily.
9. Fake Job Scams
Many people lost their jobs during the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Scammers know just how desperate these people are to get back on their feet and make ends meet.
As a result, they will try to scam them out of their personal information in any way they can, from sending emails about bogus employment opportunities to posting banner ads about faux job openings.
“Oftentimes, [people] don’t realize that if they respond to certain work-at-home type jobs, they could be opening themselves up to losing money or having their identity stolen,” Adam Levin, cybersecurity expert and founder of CyberScout, told Yahoo Life.
So, how can you avoid falling for these employment scams? According to the FTC, there are some tell-tale signs of fake job offers. These include promising you the job right away, guaranteeing you’ll make X amount of dollars per month and asking you to pay upfront costs.
8. Fraudulent Websites Claiming To Sell Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Most of us want to do all we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the coronavirus. And, with restrictions easing in some places, scammers are doing all they can to trick you out of your money.
Enter fraudulent websites claiming to sell personal protective equipment (PPE). The premise is that when travel opens back up, people will be looking to get their hands on this equipment. Unfortunately, fraudulent websites will take your money but never ship your equipment.
Not only that, but now you’ve just shared your payment information with the scammers, who can use it to rack up all kinds of goodies for themselves and all sorts of problems for you.
7. COVID Testing or Cure Scams
If you get a phone, text or email offer for miracle products that treat or prevent COVID-19, ignore them. There is absolutely no proof that these products even work. What’s worse is that they may even be harmful to your body.
Additionally, you need to be wary of ads for testing kits. That’s because many of these kits have not been approved by the FDA. As a result, they most likely aren’t accurate.
Yes, there are testing kits that can be used at home, but you will have to send the test sample to a lab for analysis and wait some time for the results to come in. It won’t be anything that can be done completely from home.
6. Fake Charity Scams
Fake charity scams are nothing new. They always seem to pop up during some type of disaster — and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception. Yes, there are legitimate organizations out there raising money to help victims of the pandemic, but there are many scammers out there, too.
That’s why it pays to do your homework before giving out your payment information. Any time a charitable organization contacts you asking for a donation, check it against the Charity Navigator to make sure it’s a legitimate organization.
5. Criminals Pretending To Be WHO
Beware of phone calls and emails from people pretending to be from the World Health Organization (WHO). If such a person or organization contacts you, verify their authenticity first before responding.
You can do this by arming yourself with the following information from the WHO website: the World Health Organization will never ask for your username or password to access safety information, never email attachments you didn’t ask for, never charge money to apply for a job, register for a conference or reserve a hotel, and never conduct lotteries or offer prizes, grants, certificates or funding through email.
4. Scams Targeting Older Americans
There are several coronavirus scams targeting seniors. One such scam was posted as an alert by the Social Security Administration. Scammers contacted seniors claiming their benefit payments may be decreased or suspended due to office closures related to the pandemic.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission warned of another scam, in which robocalls about fake investment opportunities and fraudulent accounts to protect pension funds were made.
Then there’s the pandemic version of the “grandparent scam,” in which a scammer poses as a relative urgently in need of money. The scammer will ask them to wire money or buy a gift card and call them back with the gift card number.
If you receive any calls like this, the FCC recommends hanging up and checking in with that family member directly. You could save yourself a lot of headache by doing so.
3. Health Insurance Scams
These are desperate times we’re living in, and scammers are there to take full advantage of it. With all that’s going on right now, having affordable health insurance is at the top of many a to-do list.
As a result, robocall scams focus on health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, including making pitches to sell low-priced health insurance. If you need affordable health insurance, do yourself a favor and shop for it through the HealthCare.gov website, the official Affordable Care Act site.
2. Income Tax Identity Theft
This scam is perhaps the worst of them because no one is contacting you to get your personal information. In fact, the scammers already have it. They’ve stolen your identity to file a false tax return in the hopes of getting a big refund.
One way to protect yourself against this type of scam is to invest in anti-malware software such as Malwarebytes. It blocks viruses, malware, malicious websites and ransomware, and can be used on up to three computers at a time.
1. Payment App Scams
Social distancing has changed how we do so many things, including how we pay for our purchases.
And, as businesses are increasingly turning to contactless payment options to keep themselves and others safe from COVID-19, scammers are taking advantage of the “quick and often anonymous access to cash” that these payment apps provide, according to an article written by the FCC.
That’s because payment app services often lack the same fraud protections offered by traditional banks and credit cards. Therefore, something as simple as entering an incorrect phone number or misspelling a recipient’s name can result in your hard-earned money ending up in the wrong hands. And, once it does, your chances of getting it back are pretty much nonexistent.
What’s more, is that some scammers are asking for fake charitable donations using these payment apps. So, before you send any money, check the charity’s website to verify that they accept donations through that particular app.