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Beware of Increased Scams Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

Staying safe and healthy amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic also means being aware of the many surfacing scams that are set on taking advantage of people’s vulnerability and fears surrounding the illness.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments.”

Extra Credit Union has compiled a list of some of the scams circling various means of communication of which people should be aware:

  • Fraudsters may pose as a credit union or bank through phone calls or text messages asking for personal and online banking information. The recipients of these communication efforts should not reply to the messages because caller ID can be “spoofed” and isn’t a reliable way to identify a caller. Please note, Extra Credit Union would never call or text you to ask you for this information.
  • Fraudsters have been posing as the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) in emails to steal personal information

The WHO and CDC have issued alert warnings to consumers to be on the lookout for individuals posing as the organizations.

“The best practice in avoiding scams and hackers is to not click on any links in emails you were not expecting or you did not request,” the message says. “Just delete the email.”

The Federal Trade Commission offers the following tips for avoiding coronavirus scams:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Beware of phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. Government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeing your private information to send you money. These emails may also claim to be related to charitable contributions, general financial relief, airline carrier refunds, fake cures and vaccines, and fake testing kits.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch? Also be aware of counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and personal protective equipment (PPE) inlcuding N95 respirator masks, goggles, full-face shields, protective gowns, and gloves.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
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