Beware of COVID Scams

young African American woman looking at cellphone with a concerned expression, and an overlay with the title of the article "beware of covid scams"

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse… along comes a band of bad people taking advantage of the pandemic and unemployment: scammers!

Conditions beyond your control have opened you up to scammers. These people are out to hoodwink you into sharing your personal or financial information; that means your identity or getting you to pay them for a “service”. It’s called phishing.

Scammers prey on people who are vulnerable, especially the elderly, but the young get scammed too. They do all sorts of nasty things, like buy contact lists to send out phishing emails that look real. They gather enough information (e.g. through social media) to seem like a legitimate business, and then they often threaten you saying that they will give out your personal information if you don’t cooperate.

What are scammers doing?
Scam: They impersonate an IRS Agent and say that they are calling about your stimulus check, or that in order to receive unemployment benefits, you need to pay some money to have the check expedited. Worse yet, they say that you owe money to the IRS and will be arrested if you don’t pay immediately. They may even say that “agents” are on their way.

Scam: They will pretend to be from Medicare, offering to help you get medicine or equipment, and they ask you to just “verify” your information.

Scam: They pretend to be from the Social Security Administration saying there has been fraud or another problem with your Social Security payments, and they ask for your Social Security number.

Scam: There is a text scam that claims it’s from the FCC Financial Care Center offering $30,000 in Covid relief. There is no such program.

Scam: An offer of huge travel discounts when Covid is under control. You just have to pay now.

Creepiest Scams:
Scammers have been coming to homes to say that for cash, they will test you, and they actually stick a cotton swab up your nose.
Some scammers can clone a voice, making it sound like your loved one is in danger and needs you to send money for an emergency.
Scammers show people a truck with masks and hand sanitizer in the back. They collect money for the supplies, then drive off to the next location.

If You Think You Were Scammed
If you think someone is trying to scam you, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Even if you’ve already experienced a scam, you can still report it to the FTC. You can also report scams and other cases of fraud, like identity theft, at identitytheft.gov.

What could you be doing?
The Federal Trade Commission suggests the following:

  • Don’t respond to texts, emails or calls about any checks from the government
  • Ignore offers for vaccinations and home test kits
  • Be wary of ads for test kits
  • Hang up on robocalls (a recorded message instead of a live person)
  • Delete emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO
  • Only make donations to places or causes you know
  • Don’t give personal information of any kind to anyone

Truth: Government agencies will not contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media in order to get your financial information – or your Social Security number, for that matter. Anyone who does is likely a scammer phishing for your information, and the scam should be reported to the FTC. Learn about scams related to COVID-19 at https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice.

With everything going on in the world, make scams and identity theft one less thing to worry about. Make sure you and your loved ones understand what potential scams could look like and how to avoid them. And talk to your MSA Money Coach about identity and credit monitoring services that include 24/7 monitoring of personal information and alerts for suspicious activity. Call 888-724-2326 today to learn more.

This content is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee eligibility for the program or its services.