With the COVID-19 pandemic making headlines daily, hackers and scammers are using this public health crisis as an opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers and businesses. Not only do we want our members to be safe and healthy, we want to make sure you are aware of recent scams so you can keep your money safe as well.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:
Hang up on robocalls.
Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. 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, instead. Please do not press any numbers on your phone if you get this call. You can block the number on your phone and please report it to the FTC.
Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits.
There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19 — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
Don't use fumigation or wide-are spraying to sanitize.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not recommend use of fumigation or wide-area spraying to control COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you clean contaminated surfaces with liquid products, such as those provided here, to prevent the spread of disease. Fumigation and wide-area spraying are not appropriate tools for cleaning contaminated surfaces.
Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
Know who you’re buying from.
Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
Don’t respond to texts, robocalls, or emails about checks from the IRS.
The IRS won't contact you directly regarding the stimulus payments or tax returns. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. 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, instead. Please do not press any numbers on your phone if you get this call. You can block the number on your phone and please report it to the FTC.
Here are some signs to look out for:
- The caller or emailer uses the words “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment.” The term that government officials are using is “economic-impact payment."
- You're asked to sign your check over to the caller.
- You receive an email, text or social media message saying that you need to verify your personal and/or banking information to speed up your stimulus payment.
- The individual offers to get you your payment faster.
- You receive a fake check, and then the sender tells you to call a number to verify your personal information in order to cash it.
Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.
They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus.
Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites.
Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
Be cautious of employment scams.
Scammers create job ads to lure unemployed consumers to fake jobs. The scammers will wire money or send a fake check to them and ask them to purchase goods, gift cards, or other items and then send them back to the scammers.
Be cautious of cleaning scams.
Fake cleaning services promise that they can disinfect your home, clean air ducts, and other services promising to make consumers' homes free from bacteria and coronavirus.
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