Avoiding Fraud During the Pandemic

Avoiding Fraud During the Pandemic

Monday, March 1, 2021

As if 2020 didn’t throw enough at us, scammers are hard at work. Make sure you are staying alert because it seems that Coronavirus scams are spreading nearly as fast as the virus itself. According to the Federal Trade Commission as of February 1, 2021, Coronavirus related scams have cost Americans $320 million so far.

From phishing emails and texts to robocalls and imposter schemes, fraudsters are out there in full force to take advantage where they can. They closely follow the headlines so they can adapt and change their messages and tactics as new medical and economic issues arise. Some popular scams include contact tracing scams, stimulus payment fraud and COVID-19 treatment and testing frauds.

I recently spoke with a fellow banker friend who was helping a customer out with a fraud situation. When they confronted the scammer on the phone, his response was that he has to make a living too. I think it’s important to bring this up because scamming people out of money is a full-time job for these people. They don’t go to work and clock in like we do to make an honest living, so it is so important that we keep talking and educating on this subject so we can all remember to be aware and vigilant.

Here are some tips to help you avoid being a victim of these Coronavirus scams:

  • Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone. This is a good rule to follow all the time, even if you think you’re speaking to someone trustworthy. Just don’t do it.
  • Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers or any others that appear to be suspicious. 
  • Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
  • Scammers will often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money. No reputable business will do this either.
  • Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked. Clicking on a link could lead you to a phishing site or infect your device with malware designed to compromise your system and harvest sensitive data like your online account logins and passwords or credit card and bank account details.
  • Always check in to a charity before donating. You can do this by calling or looking at its actual website. You can also use the following organizations to help you research: BBB, Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch and GuideStar. By doing a little research beforehand, you can ensure that the dollars you’re sending will count and actually go to the cause you care about.

If you think you’ve been a victim of a Coronavirus scam, contact law enforcement immediately and notify Bruning Bank.

Additionally, if you think you could be a victim of identity theft, call or stop in to your local Bruning Bank so we can connect you to a dedicated CyberScout Fraud Specialist. This person will advise you, place fraud alerts, call creditors, help you obtain replacement documents and stick with you for as long as it takes to restore your good name and peace of mind. To learn more about this complimentary customer benefit, please visit the website identitytheft911-bruningbank.com.

- Kristen Swartzendruber, Personal Banker