A drastic increase in Coronavirus related scams is being reported worldwide. These criminal activities are taking advantage of people looking for information about the pandemic, and often the most vulnerable members of our society fall victim to these crimes.
Consumers and businesses need to be vigilant to protect their finances and personal information. Be on high alert for emails, texts and phone calls that may be from scammers disguised as official businesses or government agencies requesting your information.
Here are some examples of COVID-19 scams:
- Requests for your personal information to receive a Coronavirus Relief check from the government. The government will not ask for your social security number or request a fee for you to receive money.
- Investment solicitations from publicly traded companies that manufacture products to prevent or cure COVID-19.
- Text messages offering a free cellphone to help you while you are home.
- Individuals or companies selling a Coronavirus cure or treatment—this is a new virus and there are no current cures or approved treatments.
- Robocalls offering money to work from home for companies like Amazon or requests for donations to fraudulent charities.
- Bogus emails disguised as notifications from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). These emails may look credible with attention grabbing details and logos, but clicking on those embedded links will take you to a legitimate looking website set up to deceptively gather personal information.
- Check these resources for more on these scams and other fraudulent activity:
Coronavirus Flattening The Scam Curve
While it’s normal to want to learn more about the coronavirus and information surrounding it, experts are warning people to be cautious of scammers. Watch this video to learn more and be on the lookout for coronavirus-related scams.
With people nervous about the COVID-19 coronavirus, scammers already are swooping in to take advantage of those fears.
While it’s normal to want to learn more about the coronavirus and information surrounding it, experts are warning people to be cautious of scammers who are trying to infect your devices with malware, get personal information from you, or who are trying to get you to send them money for worthless or non-existent products. There have even been reports of crooks threatening people over late or missed payments.
According to the Federal Trade Commission and other experts, here are some of the scams to watch out for:
Email phishing has already begun. Scammers are sending out emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control or other health agencies, claiming to contain updates about the coronavirus. Consumers are being warned to be wary of these emails and not to click on any links or download any attachments unless they are absolutely sure of the source. Clicking on links or downloading attachments could install malware on your computer or take you to counterfeit sites where you might be asked to provide vital personal information.
Some scammers claim to be selling products that can prevent the disease, treat it or maybe even make it go away. Don’t believe the claims. The FTC says there are currently no “vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus … online or in stores.” Don’t fall for these claims and don’t send any money. You’ll either be mailed a worthless product or receive nothing at all.
As more people suffer financial hardship due to reduced hours or loss of jobs, scammers are likely to be contacting them threatening to disconnect vital services such as utilities or communications unless you pay them immediately. Legitimate businesses won’t threaten you, won’t demand payment in cash, gift cards or wire transfers, and they won’t ask for financial account numbers, your Social Security number, or account passwords.
Some people are even posing as charities, hoping to rely on the kindness of others to steal your money.
To guard against these scams, experts say to:
- Delete unsolicited email and to not click on links in them or download files.
- Don’t fall for online claims of remedies or vaccinations.
- Don’t react to threats by making payments with gift cards or wires.
- If you have any concern that an email or call could be legitimate, type in a company’s official website address by hand or call an official number listed on a bill, statement or payment card. Tell they why you are contacting them.
- Get information only from trusted sites, such as the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov, the World Health Organization at who.int or from trusted news sources.
While it’s natural to want to learn more about the coronavirus pandemic and to do what you can to protect yourself and others, it’s important to be cautious in order to protect yourself from scammers.
Protect your bank account
Lakeland Bank will never contact you by text, email or phone asking for any personal or bank account information. Be on the lookout for the following types of crimes looking to steal your money:
- Spoof Phone Calls: Scammers may "spoof" a phone number so a text or call appears to be coming from Lakeland Bank. If you aren't expecting to be contacted, hang up and call your local branch or our Customer Service Center. Use contact information you already have on file or from our website.
- Phishing Emails: These emails are intended to look like they are from someone you know. Often, they claim something is wrong with your account, ask you to confirm personal information, or make a payment. If you think you may have received a phishing e-mail don't respond or click any links. Delete the e-mail right away.
Use authentic sources for information
Cybercriminals have been capitalizing on the global novel coronavirus emergency to launch world-wide scams designed to steal money, access personal information and infect computers. It’s important to know the types of scams and fraudulent activities being reported. If you have any suspicions about an unsolicited call, email or text, assume it is a scam and avoid further communication until you can determine it is an authentic source. Visit these authentic resources for information about scams and ways to protect against them:
Lakeland Bank is honored to be your financial services partner and is dedicated to protecting all of our customers. For additional information on protecting yourself from Identity Theft, please click here.
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