Unfortunately, during this unprecedented time, scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic to conduct a variety of scams. They are using phishing emails and texts, robocalls, imposter schemes, and more, following the news and adapting their tactics as new medical and economic issues arise. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of some active scams to help keep yourself and your loved ones from becoming a victim.
Contact Tracer Scams: Contact tracing calls are becoming more common as we navigate through the pandemic. It’s important to visit your state’s Department of Health website to learn what contact tracers will and will not ask. Legitimate contact tracers may ask you to confirm your date of birth, address and phone number. They will never request a Social Security number, bank account information, payment for services, or ask you to access a web link within a text or email.
Employment Scams: With many unemployed workers seeking ways to earn money, scams such as car wrap scams have returned. The gist of the scam is this: the employer will offer to pay you $250-$350 a week if you will drive around town with your car or truck wrapped to advertise a product or upcoming event. They will send you a check or direct deposit and instruct you to send a portion of the funds to their preferred advertising company to pay for the materials. Asking you to use a portion of a check or direct deposit to pay their preferred vendor for training, equipment or supplies is always a scam.
Overpayment Scams: While spending more time at home, many of us are cleaning out closets and storage areas and then listing items for sale on Craig’s List, Facebook Marketplace, or other online sites. It’s important to be on the lookout for check payment scams. Does the account holder’s name on the check match the name of the buyer? Is the payment amount significantly more than the selling price? In these scams, the seller is pressured to return the overpayment to the buyer by mailing cash, purchasing gift cards, or using payment apps. Consult with your bank before depositing these checks. Bank staff are trained in identifying scams.
Romance Scams: With social distancing in place, online dating is common. Unfortunately, romance scams are common too. After weeks, maybe even months of conversing online, if someone you have never met in person asks you to share your personal information, to allow them access to your online banking, or to receive and forward money for them or their family members, it’s a scam.
Social Security Scams: Some scammers are calling claiming to be law enforcement saying your personal information was used to conduct a crime. Remember, don’t trust caller ID and do not verify or share your Social Security number or any other personal information with anyone who calls you out of the blue. Contact your bank or local law enforcement if you need help determining if a call is a scam.
Now, more than ever, it pays to be diligent in protecting your personal and financial information so that you are not a victim of scammers. For more information on these scams and others, visit the Coronavirus Scams section of the Federal Trade Commission’s website found at www.ftc.gov.