alchemy

Don’t fall victim to coronavirus scams

Column by Andrea W. Doray
Posted 4/29/20

Have you received your stimulus check yet? Has your small business loan been processed? Have you heard anything about your unemployment benefits? No? Well, I am here to help … just send me your …

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alchemy

Don’t fall victim to coronavirus scams

Posted

Have you received your stimulus check yet? Has your small business loan been processed? Have you heard anything about your unemployment benefits?

No? Well, I am here to help … just send me your Social Security Number, your birthdate, your current address (with ZIP code), and, oh yes, your bank account and routing numbers. If you’re reading this on your phone, just “click here” and you will immediately be taken care of.

STOP! Don’t do this … don’t ever do this. Don’t send anything like this to me or to anyone else. It’s 99.9%sure to be a scam. Bad actors abound in this age of coronavirus and there is no depth to which they won’t fall to take advantage of good people like you and me.

As AARP notes, “Fraudsters follow the headlines.” As of just last Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had received more than 25,400 consumer complaints related to the outbreak, including nearly 14,000 fraud complaints. Victims have reported losing $19.3 million, with a median loss of $556.

That’s why the scenario above is not at all far-fetched. Scammers use emails and texts to “phish” for your personal and financial information while promising assistance if you do. Others threaten legal or financial consequences, or they may claim to be from your Internet provider or credit card company offering to “help” you fix a problem with your account.

These phishing attempts are now often linked to coronavirus fear and confusion about when and how help will arrive. You may also be swamped with offers for miracle cures … just enter your account number and CCV on the back of the card.

Don’t – just don’t – respond. Even if you believe you know the sender and even if you think the message is legitimate, don’t respond. Hang up, close out the link, delete the text – whatever form this communication takes, get rid of it and contact the sender in a different way. Email the organization if you receive a text, or call if you receive an email, for example, to verify that they’ve sent you something. Most times, they have. But better to be safe than really, really sorry.

MORE: State warns against COVID-19 scams

Scammers easily “spoof” websites, names, and phone numbers – that is, they look like something or someone you are familiar with – to lure you into giving them your information with official-looking and -sounding communication. Banks and credit card sites are often spoofed, as well as cable, Internet, and wireless providers, and even sites such as Google and Facebook.

The best defense, again, is never to click or follow a link. Go directly to the site through your own browser and don’t rely on autofill … type in the address yourself. When robocalls get into the act as they try to trick you into answering questions or divulging personal and financial information, just hang up and, for extra peace of mind, block the numbers.

Scammers are not new, and the sophistication of their tools is increasing exponentially. Although we always need to be aware of such fraud, the urgency and uncertainty of current times can cause us to let down our guards and become unwitting victims.

Please, my friends, pay attention, wash your hands, and stay well and safe, in all regards.

Andrea Doray is a writer who recommends you type in the addresses for sites such as www.coronavirus.gov and www.cdc.gov to get the latest on COVID-19 relief and the coronavirus. Contact Andrea at a.doray@andreadoray.com.

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