The stories of scams happening to people, particularly to seniors, is certainly not new. However, amidst this coronavirus pandemic that continues to impact the world, much to no one’s surprise, scammers have found ways to prey on consumers.
According to the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC), some of the reported scams have included some of the following:
- Phone calls offering free at-home COVID-19 testing kits
- Hoax text messages with offers for either a cure or to test for COVID-19
- Promotions to sell health and life insurance policies
- Offering financial relief to consumers (claiming to be from the FCC’s Financial Care Center, to which there is no program with the FCC)
- Texts claiming that the government has mandated a 2-week quarantine and instructing consumers to go out and stock up on supplies
- Phone calls with false student loan repayment plans, debt consolidation promotions, and even COVID-19 themed work-at-home job opportunities
- Small business loan and advertising scams targeted to small business owners
- In light of the stimulus relief payments, fake IRS phone calls with requests for banking information
Scammers will always find a way to prey on the fears and vulnerabilities of those they wish they scam. It’s why they call seniors with false stories about their grandchildren needing financial help and this COVID-19 crisis has certainly been no exception to that.
As is the case with all unsolicited phone calls, text messages, and e-mails, it is advisable to be on alert and err on the side of caution and not respond, engage, click links, and provide any personal information.
Here are some tips directly from the FCC to help protect yourself from scams, including these scams amidst this COVID-19 crisis:
- Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
- Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
- Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
- Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
- Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
- Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.
If you (or someone you know) has been a victim of a scam, it is advised that you contact your local law enforcement agency right away.
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