We’re all under enough stress these days. The last thing we need is to fall victim to coronavirus fraud, which could endanger your personal and financial information, rob you of hard-earned dollars and take your anxiety to a whole new level.
Keep these guidelines in mind and report suspicious activity immediately.
- Don’t be fooled by advertisements, websites or social media messages offering protective masks, virus-killing cleaning products or vaccines. Although the website may look legitimate, in all probability your credit card will be charged and you will never receive the product. It’s important to note that there is currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19.
- Never pay up front for financial relief. Organizations like First Command are offering clients loan assistance and deferments, and the government has announced federal student loan relief, but none of these programs require an advance fee.
- Hang up on robocalls immediately. Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated, so even pressing a key when prompted or answering “yes” to a simple question can put you at risk. One reported robocall scheme impersonates the local health department and alerts the call recipient that they have been in contact with someone infected by the coronavirus.
- Be cautious about answering the door. Scammers in white lab coats pretending to be from the local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are robbing homes.
- Verify the authenticity of any charity before giving money. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator are two independent sources that evaluate and rate nonprofit organizations. If you are considering a donation, it’s always a good idea to confirm the information through the charity’s website.
- Never divulge personal or financial information via email, text or over the phone. Legitimate organizations – including financial institutions, insurance companies, potential employers and government entities – do not request information this way. Tricare beneficiaries were recently warned about callers claiming to be from Tricare asking for personal information so a COVID-19 test can be sent to them. Remember that only your physician can order such a test. Tricare asks that anyone contacted in this manner report it to their fraud and abuse section.
- Do not click on an email link unless it’s coming from a verified source. For example, hackers are taking advantage of the federal stimulus package news by sending emails announcing ways to get the money faster or fake grant applications to get additional funds. Once you click on the link, malware is downloaded onto your computer and your data is compromised.
- Ignore pitches from financial advisors you don’t know. Scammers are pressuring people to invest in “hot” new stocks or pretending to offer financial aid or loans in order to obtain sensitive information from you. Instead, reach out to your First Command Financial Advisor for guidance. And if you know someone else who is experiencing financial anxiety and could use our help during these challenging times, let your Advisor know.