Scams: Keep on the Lookout
It’s an unfortunate truth that particularly during times of hardship fraudsters and scammers will attempt to take advantage of the situation to steal your money, your personal information, or your identity. It is important, now more than ever, to be as aware and prepared as possible to combat such attempts. In an effort to protect our customers we have compiled some common frauds and scams related to COVID-19, as well as resources on how best to deal with them.
Scammers will try to trick you by approaching you with information they know you are interested in and they may make themselves to appear to come from a familiar source, all in the hopes that you will act or click before thinking it through.
A brief overview of scams and fraud to look out for are:
- Fake CDC Alerts emails
- Health Advice emails
- Workplace policies emails
- Stimulus check information
- Charity donation requests
- Phone calls
- Text Messages
- Offers for “free” services (such as streaming services)
- Offers for medical equipment, cures, or treatments
- Investment offers
TO REPORT A SCAM OR FRAUD:
Texas First Bank’s financial Security page lets you quickly take action and report suspicious activity based on the scam type.
STIMULUS CHECK SCAMS
Be wary of emails, text, calls, or other correspondence relating to your COVID-19 government stimulus check. Any emails, texts, or calls are not legitimate. They might promise faster delivery or ask to verify personal or banking information – the government will NOT do this.
If you have filed your 2019 taxes and selected to receive a refund via direct deposit, your stimulus check will be deposited into the account you elected for your tax refund. If you have not filed 2019 taxes, but filed your 2018 taxes last year and opted for direct deposit, your stimulus check will be deposited into the account you elected for your 2018 tax refund. If you have not authorized a direct deposit for your tax refund, you will receive a check via the USPS (if eligible).
Email scams, also known as phishing, are when fraudsters and scammers send emails claiming to be from legitimate organizations.
The email messages might ask you to open an attachment to see the latest statistics on COVID-19. If you click on the attachment or embedded link, it is possible you could download malicious software onto your device. The malicious software could allow scammers to take control of your computer, log your keystrokes, or access your personal information and financial data, which could lead to identity theft.
Common types of coronavirus themed phishing emails:
Fake CDC Alerts. The email might falsely claim to link to a list of coronavirus cases in your area or offer information of testing, results, or anything else that might get you to open the email.
Fake Health Advice Emails: Emails that offer supposed medical advice to help protect you against the coronavirus. The emails might claim to be from medical experts. “This little measure can save you,” one phishing email says. “Use the link below to download Safety Measures.”
Fake Workplace Policy Email: Some fraudsters and scammers have targeted employees’ workplace email, often with links to fake policies. If you click on the fake company policy, you’ll download malicious software. .
How to recognize & avoid phishing emails:
Like other types of phishing emails, the messages usually try to get you to click on a link or provide personal information that can be used to commit fraud or identity theft. Here’s some tips to avoid getting tricked.
- Beware of requests for personal information. A coronavirus-themed email that seeks personal information like your Social Security number or login information is a scam. Legitimate government agencies won’t ask for that information. Never respond to the email with your personal data.
- Check the email address or link. You can inspect a link by hovering your mouse button over the URL to see where it leads. Sometimes, it’s obvious the web address is not legitimate. But keep in mind scammers and fraudsters can create links that closely resemble real websites. Delete the email if you suspect it is a scam.
- Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes. If an email includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, it’s likely a sign you’ve received a phishing email. Delete it.
- Look for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like “Dear sir or madam” signal an email is not legitimate.
- Avoid emails that insist you act now. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action. The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal information without thoroughly thinking it through. Delete the message.
In this time of need you may be in a position to help others who find themselves in need. While doing so is a very admirable goal, you must do your due diligence ahead of time.
Do your homework when it comes to contributing any donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. Take your time and ensure that the charities and causes you are considering donating to are legitimate and have a proven track record of making good use of the donations they receive. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
Scammers & Fraudsters may try to call you on the phone in an effort to gather personal or financial information. They may use tactics designed to intimidate, confuse, or scare you. All in an effort to make you not think twice about giving them sensitive information.
You may also receive robocalls, if you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall. Hang up. Don’t press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list but it might lead to more robocalls. Illegal robocalls are used to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes.
TEXT & SOCIAL MEDIA SCAMS
Text messages, facebook messages, and other messenger platforms can also have scammers and fraudsters using them. Should you receive a message with a link in it do NOT click it, as it will download malware onto your device, even a phone or tablet. The message could be from an unknown sender or may even be from someone you know. In the latter case they are most likely a victim of a similar scam.
FREE SERVICE OR SUPPLIES SCAMS
Be aware of offers and ads for cures, treatments, medical supplies, free video streaming services, ways to track the virus’ spread, or other too good to be true claims.
If you are shopping online, know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, or health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t. All in an attempt to gather your credit card information or to get you to unknowingly download malware onto your device.
Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus.
As always, make sure to fact-check all information you receive no matter the source. Scammers, and often times innocent well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources to ensure they are legitimate. Visit official COVID-19 channels or go directly to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information Center