(Wespath) During this pandemic, there are many examples of people coming together to help each other. This crisis is shining a bright light on front-line heroes—the medical workers and other essential workers caring for us, staffing our stores and delivering goods to those unable to leave their homes.
Unfortunately, there are also villains in our story—those who prey on others, using the pandemic to their advantage. Today, we are focused on things you can do to prevent being taken advantage of by email scams and phishing attempts.
The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have posted warnings about a number of scams designed to access personal information. This information can be used for identity theft, to gain access to bank and credit card accounts, or to release a virus that attempts to steal information from your computer. Details about some reported scams are provided here:
COVID-19 Payment Scam
How it Works—Stimulus payments related to COVID-19 began to be sent in March. Individuals have reported being contacted by scammers claiming to be from the federal government and asking to verify personal information or bank account details in order to "release" these funds.
Protect Yourself—No one will contact you to verify your information. The Treasury Department expects most people to receive their payments via direct deposit based on information in prior year tax filings. If you have questions about your stimulus payment, visit the IRS Get My Payment tool. DO NOT respond to any emails on this topic.
Donation Request Scam
How it Works—Individuals have reported receiving emails claiming to be from the CDC or World Health Organization (WHO) requesting donations.
Protect Yourself—Do your homework when it comes to donations. Never donate in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money. Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. For information, visit sites like coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus or go directly to the website of the organization you’d like to support.
Fake Product Scams
How it Works—Individuals have reported receiving emails with websites offering access to unapproved products to prevent or treat COVID-19, such as test kits and vaccinations.
Protect Yourself—There are no products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 at this time. Be wary of ads for test kits. Most advertised online have not been approved by the FDA, and may not be accurate. The FDA has approved one home test kit, but it requires a doctor’s order. If you believe you need a COVID-19 test, please contact your medical provider directly.
If you think you've been a victim of a coronavirus scam, contact law enforcement or go to https://www.fcc.gov/covid-