Learn how to protect your identity and keep your accounts safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During these uncertain times surrounding COVID-19, it is important to stay vigilant with regard to your finances. Amidst the ever changing information and facts, scammers will continue to craft new schemes. Keep an eye out for the following scams:
- Covid-19 Stimulus Scams – As the U.S. Treasury mails millions of checks involving the stimulus Economic Impact Payments (EIPs), fraudsters are also looking to get their cut. Look out for EIP checks that appear counterfeit or contain instructions to call a number or visit a website in order to cash the check. Legitimate EIP checks will not require any form of validation. Additionally, be aware of phishing schemes attempting to steal personal information via emails, letters, phone calls, and text messages containing keywords such as “Corona Virus,” “COVID-19,” and “Stimulus,”, etc., with the purpose of obtaining financial account information or login credentials. The U.S. treasury will never attempt to contact you regarding the EIP payments.
- Covid-19 Vaccine Scams – Finally, the Covid-19 vaccine is available to millions of people, but along with this is the reports that fraudsters are exploiting vulnerable individuals. If you are sent communication about vaccines that seems fishy, check it out with your local health department. Don't give out personal information such as your bank account information or Social Security number when solicited by someone you don't know -- no health department or vaccination site would require that information to get you vaccinated. And you should only be vaccinated at authorized vaccination sites. Additional information to protect yourself:
- You likely will not need to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine during this public health emergency.
- You cannot pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
- You cannot pay to get early access to the vaccine.
- No one from a vaccine distribution site or health care payer, like a private insurance company, will call you asking for your Social Security number, or your credit card or bank account information to sign you up to get the vaccine.
- Beware of anyone offering products, treatments, or medicines to prevent the virus. Always check with your health care provider before paying for (or receiving) any COVID-19-related treatment.
- If you get a phone call, text message, email — or even someone knocking on your door — claiming they can get you early access to the vaccine, STOP. That’s a scam. Don’t pay for a promise of vaccine access or share personal information. Instead, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. If you have questions about the vaccine or are interested in getting it, check with your state or local health departments to learn the process.
- Work from Home Scams – Work from home opportunities can be especially attractive amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Flexible hours, the ease of no commute, social distancing, and the salary are all perks. During this time phony work from home scams will continue to rise. Always do your research on the company to help confirm if it is legitimate. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has additional resources and tips if an opportunity seems too good to be true.
- Imposter Scams – This type of scam involves a fraudster posing as someone you know or even an organization you trust. These kinds of scams are especially popular during the uncertainty and fear surrounding COVID-19. Fraudsters will attempt to steal personal information or convince you to make a charitable donation. They may even pose as someone from a legitimate organization like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention or the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Investment Scams – These scams usually involve ways to make easy money with large payouts. They are usually disguised as promising business opportunities or a new type of investment product. If you buy into these scams, you're likely to find out that the investment you paid for is worthless and that your money is gone.
- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) urged investors to be wary of COVID-19-related investment scams. This includes promotions that falsely claim that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus.
- Product Scams – The FTC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued public statements and warning letters to companies selling unapproved products that have claimed to help treat and prevent COVID-19.
For additional information on the types of scams and updates surrounding them, the FTC sends consumer alerts by email. To be notified, please visit the FTC Website and select ‘Get Consumer Alerts’.
For additional information surrounding the current state of COVID-19, the CDC and the WHO have up to date information on their websites.