Scammers have no shame.
Whenever something new comes up, scammers will take advantage of the situation to try to steal your identity and trick you out of your hard-earned money. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is no different.
First and foremost
Never give out your personal financial information to someone who calls you! Linn Area Credit Union will never call you and ask for your account number, PIN, credit card number, or any other personal financial information.
Even if the call comes from a phone number you recognize, do not give out your information! To execute their phishing schemes, fraudsters sometimes use a technique called spoofing, which makes their phone calls look like they’re coming from a local number or a number you might trust. (Don’t fall for it!)
If for some reason you think that maaaaaybe the call is legit, err on the side of caution. Don’t give out any information. Hang up. Use a browser to find the company’s phone number on their website, and contact them using that number.
And these wise words aren’t limited to phone calls. The same goes for odd and unexpected emails and texts. (The CDC doesn’t need your Social Security number. Trust us.)
New tactics (and classics with a twist)
We want to make you aware of a few of the angles that scammers are taking during the COVID-19 pandemic. They may try to take advantage of your fear of becoming ill by:
- Trying to sell you access to a COVID-19 cure or a vaccine
- Claiming to have a “health kit” for you from the CDC or Medicare
- Setting up fake online stores that offer cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies. (Not only do you give up your credit card and personal info, but the ordered supplies never arrive.)
They may also try to take advantage of your generous nature, and your very human instinct to want to help people in need. As always after a natural disaster or other type of crisis hits, you’ll find scammers calling, emailing, or sending texts asking you to donate to their (fake) charities. Be on the lookout for scam solicitations that supposedly support clinical studies, hospitals, doctors, or victims affected by COVID-19, and learn how to tell the difference between a real charity and a scam.
The bad guys are still working some of the other classics, too, including offering to refinance your home, forgive student debt, lower your interest rate, and consolidate your loans. (With so many more people facing financial insecurity right now, these scams are popping up all over and finding new potential targets!)
And speaking of old standbys… the grandchild-in-trouble scam is going strong right now. With the Coronavirus pandemic, there’s a real added sense of urgency. If your grandson (or other family member) is in trouble, such as trapped overseas or in jail or needs money to pay a hospital bill, you would want to help immediately to get your loved one out of that situation. The problem is… it’s probably not your loved one calling. It’s probably a fraudster trying to trick you into sending money.
Please don’t get roped into any of these scams. Linn Area Credit Union is here to help you through these challenging times. If you need financial assistance, please contact us, and we’ll do whatever we can to get you on solid financial footing. And if you’re not sure if something is a scam, you can contact us about that, too. (We’ve bumped into a lot of these things, and we’ll be happy to guide you down the right path.)
About that government relief check…
Scammers have jumped on this angle, too, taking advantage of the fact that the details are still being ironed out. You may be receiving calls, emails, and texts claiming things like:
- We have to confirm your Social Security number in order to sign you up for the relief check. (Nope. That’s not how this works.)
- We need your account information to know where to deposit the check. (Again, nope.)
- We can get you your money early — we just need to know your PayPal account (or other personal financial information). (No one has access to the money before anyone else.)
The bottom line: Do not give out any information to anyone who contacts you! (It’s a scam!) Learn more about what to expect when it comes to your stimulus payment.
When was the last time you checked your credit report?
It’s good to check your credit report to make sure everything is correct and to monitor for fraudulent activity, especially during these crazy times. Now through December 2022, you can go to www.annualcreditreport.com and get FREE weekly online reports from the three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Learn more about COVID-19-related scams
We’ve rounded up some good reading for you on scams that are making the rounds right now. (The Federal Trade Commission is always a reliable resource when it comes to current scams.) Here are several articles and blog postings the FTC has published:
- Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus
- Coronavirus: Scammers follow the headlines
- Coronavirus scams, Part 2
- Checks from the government
- Now more than ever, spot the scams with #FTCScamBingo (Complete with downloadable Bingo card!)
- Thinking critically about Coronavirus news and information
- Socially distancing from COVID-19 robocall scams
- 60 and over in the time of COVID-19? Read on.
- Want to get your Coronavirus relief check? Scammers do too.
- Grandparent scams in the age of Coronavirus
- Coronavirus checks: flattening the scam curve
- Avoiding SSA scams during COVID-19
- Avoid scams while finding help during quarantine