Unfortunately, these stressful times serve as the perfect opportunity for scammers to strike. You’ve probably heard scam stories in the news, but do you know what to watch for? We share 10 current scams and what you can do to avoid getting tricked. And remember to trust your instincts: If it feels wrong, it likely is.
How to Avoid These 10 Common Scams
1. Money App Scams
Money apps like Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay and Cash App are convenient ways to send and receive money. However, these apps can also be used by scammers to steal your money. In this scam, a person asks to use your phone to make a call, but then says the person they were calling didn’t pick up and they need to send a text message instead. It may look like the person is texting, but these scammers use the opportunity to access money apps to transfer your money into their accounts. To prevent this common scam, change your money app settings to require multi-factor authentication, like a pin number or thumbprint login, for use.
2. Tech Support Scams
Have you received an unexpected phone call or email from someone claiming to be tech support? This is a popular trick used by scammers to gain access to your computer and, ultimately, your personal data. Avoid giving scammers access to your computer by deleting the email, and never authorize payment or provide personal or financial information over the phone.
3. COVID-19 Testing or Treatment Scams
Some scammers are calling or even knocking on doors while wearing lab coats or hazmat gear claiming to be with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These scammers say they have an at-home coronavirus test for sale and may also claim to be selling fake cures, vaccines or medical advice on unproven treatments. With social distancing in place, it’s better to avoid answering the door. And don’t believe any medical advice that doesn’t come from a reputable doctor or health official.
4. Fake Charity Scams
A trickier scam to identify is false solicitation for donations for individuals, groups and areas impacted by the coronavirus. Take time to research the charity before donating your hard-earned money, and consider donating instead to a local organization you’ve given to in the past.
5. Robocall Scams
Criminals will often pose as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Medicare to steal your money and personal information. These scammers may ask you to make payments using a prepaid debit card or even threaten arrest. Don’t listen to them! The IRS will mail a statement if taxes are owed and does not require the purchase of a prepaid debit card. You can visit the Federal Trade Commission's website to learn about more about current scams.
6. Health Provider Scam
Beware of scammers pretending to be doctors or hospitals that have treated a friend or family member for COVID-19 and are demanding payment. A hospital or doctor’s office is unlikely to call or email a relative for money. Hang up immediately and get in touch with the mentioned friend or family member to alert them.
7. Fake Check Scams
Counterfeit checks are another common scam. If you receive a check in the mail that seems too good to be true, be very careful. These scams may congratulate you on winning a foreign lottery, or they may be check overpayments. If you’re asked to pay for a prize or send back money after receiving a payment, it could be a scam.
8. Supply Scam
Scammers are creating fake shops, websites, social media accounts and email addresses to pretend to sell in-demand COVID-19 supplies, like face masks and rubber gloves. Once you try to purchase any of the supplies, they pocket the money without sending you any actual product. If you’re buying online, only shop with businesses you know. You can also look up business on BBB before making a purchase to confirm they are legitimate.
Phishing is one of the most common internet scams that can pose serious cybersecurity threats to your or your business, if you own one. Scammers use fake emails and texts to gain access to accounts. These messages may look like they are coming from someone you know or a reputable organization, like the World Health Organization or the CDC. But if you click on the link or download the attachment, it contains ransomware that can infect your computer and access your personal information. If an email or attachment looks suspicious, delete it without clicking on a link or downloading an attachment.
10. Compassion Scams
During this vulnerable time of quarantine and social distancing, scammers may try to develop a friendship with you. Their goal: to gain your trust and obtain your personal and financial information. Be careful.
Protect Yourself From Scams
The best way to protect yourself is knowing what to watch for and staying informed. Our Farm Bureau identity theft protection can help protect your identity by using quick detection and rapid response. Contact a Farm Bureau agent to discuss your options.