From January 1 through June 11, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported more than 91,808 COVID-19-related reports of fraud, scam, and suspicious behavior, totaling $59.27 million.
Many of these reports involve online shopping for products that never arrive, while others include travel and vacation refunds and cancellations, but there have already been numerous other scams, including targeting taxpayers who were waiting for their economic impact (stimulus) payments this spring.
There are countless ways that scammers are trying to take advantage of consumers during these wearisome times. Your best method to stay protected from this kind of fraud is to stay informed.
Beware of Contact Tracing Scams
The country is beginning to open up slowly, stores and restaurants are welcoming a small number of guests, and schools are doing their best to teach students, which means we may begin to see a rise in cases. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has identified contact tracing as an important tool in slowing the spread of the disease.
If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you may receive a call for contact tracing purposes. Legitimate contact tracers will only ask the following information:
- Your name and address
- Your health information
- The names of places and people you have visited
As the CDC uses contact tracing to keep people healthy, many scammers are preying on those who are anxious about the spread of the disease. A legitimate contact tracer will never ask you for more than the above information. Here’s how you can protect yourself:
- Do not pay a contact tracer—anyone asking for money is a scammer.
- Do not give your social security number or financial information to a contact tracer—there is no need for them to have your social security number, bank account, or credit card information.
- Do not share your immigration status with a contact tracer—legal contact tracers do not need this information
- Do not click links or download anything from someone claiming to be a contact tracer—a real contact tracer will only send you a text or email to let you know they will be calling.
Learn the Warning Signs
What other scams are happening? Here are a few ways to protect yourself from pandemic-related fraud:
- Ignore offers for vaccines or home COVID-19 test kits, which are sold without any proof of their accuracy
- Proceed with caution when you see advertisements for home test kits to treat or test for COVID-19, as these are not FDA-approved
- Hang up on robocalls, especially those claiming to be about low-cost health insurance or work-from-home offers
- Be careful about emails claiming to be from the CDC or World Health Organization (WHO), and rely on coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus to get the latest information, and never click on links from sources you don’t know
- Learn how to recognize charity scams
- Avoid Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) scams like getting checks to car dealerships
- Say no to anyone who asks you to pay for something with a gift card, wire transfer, or cryptocurrency
Remain Informed and Get Help When You Need It
Which types of scams and frauds are happening most frequently in Georgia? You can stay apprised of what’s happening in your state using this FTC map that compiles data from across the state and the country.
At Signature Bank of Georgia, we know the most important thing we can have during these strange times is trust—and we’ll work hard to keep yours.
Have questions about whether or not you’re receiving a legitimate call or offer? We’re here to guide you through this crisis. Contact us today or give us a call at 404-609-0676.