Pandemic Related Hazards
I am urging all of you to be aware of an escalating number of pandemic related hazards. There is a full menu of scams, fraud and financial challenges lurking. Fraudsters are having a field day exploiting the uncertainties caused by the Coronavirus outbreak – COVID-19. They are using your fear and vulnerability as a weapon.
Here’s some examples of what these criminals are up to: From price gouging that’s preventing purchases of critical supplies, to fake products – promising cures; from loan payments to travel cancellations, from work-at-home schemes to Government Imposters seeking your personal information. AND – that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
How to Protect Yourself from the Coming Pandemic Related Hazards
- Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from fake coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. At this time, there is no cure or vaccination for COVID-19, and there are no FDA-authorized home test kits. Visit the FDA’s website to learn more.
- Do not respond to texts or emails about checks from the government from contacts you do not know. If someone tells you they can get you money immediately, it is a scam.
- Do not click on web links from unfamiliar sources. These links could download viruses onto your computer or device.
- 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 reliable and up-to-date information and updates, it is always best to visit the CDC’s website or the World Health Organization’s website.
- Do your research before donating to charities claiming to help with COVID-19 efforts. Be wary of donations that require payment in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money.
If you think you are a victim of any of these pandemic related hazards involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home through a number of platforms:
- Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Report to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov
- If you are dealing with a cyber scam, submit your complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, here.
Some Additional Tips
Please know that government, the IRS and businesses have policies in place that are rapidly changing. Therefore, if you are seeking the latest policy of a particular entity, it is best to directly check their website rather than clicking on links in emails or attachments.
Government imposters have begun calling about COVID-19 relief. Imposters will call victims and suggest that you may qualify for a Government grant, but you have to verify your identity to process your request. Variations of the scheme involve contacts through text messages and social media posts.
Scams Coming About Stimulus Checks
The IRS is warning taxpayers of a tsunami of calls and phishing attempts about COVID-19 Stimulus checks. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.
Scammers will suggest that you can get your Stimulus check faster if you share personal details like your Social Security number and banking information and also require you to pay a “processing fee”. DON’T TAKE THE BAIT!
Stimulus checks are free money provided from the Government. You do NOT need to spend money to receive your check. There are no short-cuts – even for a fee. The IRS will deposit your check into the direct deposit info you entered on your tax return or alternatively they will mail you a check.
The IRS will never call you or ask you to verify payment details. Do not give out your bank account information, your debit or credit card number, or your PayPal payment details to someone who contacts you unsolicited.
The IRS has a webpage with information about the COVID-19 Stimulus payments that is updated quickly whenever new information is available. Here is the link
It’s impossible for me to cover all of the upcoming pandemic related hazards. However, the details listed above are a good refresher, especially for those who have been reading my prior articles. Remember that recognizing the red flags is one of the best weapons against scams and fraud.
You can read my prior article about Coronavirus Phishing Emails here.
I wish you and your loved ones all the best. BE SAFE OUT THERE.