The COVID-19 outbreak has turned our lives upside down. There have already been reports of fraudsters profiting from those left financially disadvantaged by the outbreak. Here are some things you can look out for during the pandemic response in the coming weeks.
Scams Involving COVID-19 Relief Checks
Soon, the U.S. government will be sending relief checks to Americans as part of the COVID-19 economic stimulus package. Follow these tips from the Better Business Bureau on things to look out for as the stimulus checks are distributed:
1. Government agencies do not communicate through social media avenues like Facebook. So, be wary of unsolicited messages.
2. Do not pay any money for a “free” government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a “free” government grant, it is not really free. A real government agency will not ask you to pay an advanced processing fee. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is Grants.gov.
3. Check for look-alikes. Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Find contact info on your own and call them to be sure the person you’ve heard from is legitimate.
4. Don’t assume an offer in a social media message is from a real friend. It’s easier for scammers to impersonate real people on social media. Call your friend to verify it was them who contacted you (and share this Scam Alert with them if they are spreading false information).
Remote Deposit Fraud
As people may become unemployed as a result of the pandemic, it can be tempting to find ways to get some fast cash. Be extremely cautious of online opportunities that promise some easy money. In many instances, these job offers involve the scammer depositing a check. The check is usually fraudulent and if deposited successfully, you’ll be out the money. Here are some ways you can avoid scams like these:
NEVER give out account information to someone you do not know.
NEVER give out online banking login information to anyone.
Do not accept funds from someone you do not know.
If you would be embarrassed to tell your banker why/how you received the money, it is probably a red flag that you should not accept the funds.
If you think you’re being scammed or if you have any questions, please contact us right away.