Staying Safe from COVID-19 Scams

Posted by Jenni Barnett on Monday, April 27th, 2020 at 3:12pm.

It’s unfortunate, but familiar - crisis makes people more vulnerable to scams. And with this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, scammers are sure to be lurking close by.

Five Potential COVID-19 Scams to be Aware of

Phone Scams

Fraudsters may call pretending to be from an official public health agency stating they have urgent COVID-19 test results. They may ask for you to share personal and financial information to “authenticate” your identity before they share the results. They may also say that the person has tested positive, and they need financial information so that you can pay for a prescription.

Stay safe tip: It’ is best not to answer calls from unknown numbers. But if you do, don’t share nor confirm any personal or banking information over the phone until you validate that the caller is legitimately from the agency they claim to represent.

Text Scams

Scammers may send text messages with a link. It may appear to be from a health agency or charity or even from a financial institution. It can say to follow the link to get test results or a free mask or to claim your stimulus check.

Stay safe tip: Don’t reply to text messages and delete it immediately. Always go to the official website of the institution for accurate information.

Door-to-Door Scams

Scammers may even arrive at your doorstep, claiming that they are giving or selling home tests to detect COVID-19. Their goal can be either to sell you a fake test or unapproved drugs — or worse yet, a home invasion.

Stay safe tip: Currently, there are no home tests available. Only hospitals and health professionals can perform the tests. As a general rule, don’t answer open the door to someone claiming to sell anything from a public health agency or claiming to be a health professional.

Phishing Emails

You may receive an official-looking COVID-19 phishing email that appears to be from the government. It may be labeled as an “urgent” and ask you to open a malicious attachment or to provide personal or financial information to confirm your identity.

Stay safe tip: Phishing emails can be hard to detect. Sometimes even the return email address will look official. Just like texts, always go to the official website of an institution for accurate information.

Job Scams

Fraudsters may hire under various mysterious guises like “financial agents” or “mystery shoppers.” This scam can be as simple as asking you to pay a fee to apply. But it can be complicated if it’s part of a money-laundering scheme.

Stay safe tip: If it sounds too good to be true (or too suspicious), it’s likely a scam. Any authentic job wouldn’t ask you to pay out-of-pocket for an interview and never give bank information to people you don’t trust.

Staying safe during the COVID-19 crisis is most certainly about your health, but it also means staying safe from scammers.

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