Scammers Taking Advantage of COVID-19

The most common tactic that scammers will use is to manipulate their victim's emotions. Whether it's through fear, excitement, or by feigning a long-distance relationship, they know that humans don't think as rationally when our emotions come into play. Most scams follow similar patterns - who hasn't received an email from foreign royalty at this point? However, in light of the new COVID-19 pandemic several new scams are on the rise. 

Anyone offering to sell you a Coronavirus vaccine, cure, air filters, or test kits should send up immediate red flags. All testing is performed and monitored in medical facilities, no test results taken in your home would be accepted by a medical professional. Any medical vaccine or cure would be treated in the same manner, not to mention the fact that there are no vaccines or cures for COVID-19. The same is true for COVID-19 home air filters, they simply don't exist. Look at how long scientists have been fighting various strains of the flu (about a century). If we don't have cures and air filters for influenza yet, we certainly haven't developed them for COVID-19 in the few short months we've been fighting it. Flu testing and treatments are still administered/prescribed within medical facilities.

The others you may encounter are COVID-19 versions of more traditional scams. Fake charities or someone fraudulently representing a real charity to raise funds for those affected by the pandemic can be deceiving and pull on our heartstrings. "Person in need" scams have the same effect, but with an element of fear or panic, making us worry someone we love may be in danger. Always verify sources by visiting websites on your own, calling and checking in with family or friends, or simply saying "no" to these callers.

Scammers also impersonate government agencies, claiming that Social Security benefits will stop due to the pandemic or that your funds are no longer insured at your financial institution. This information elicits fear and panic, and rightly so, but understand that the Social Security Administration assured that benefits will continue throughout this time, even though their offices are closed to the public. In addition, the FDIC and the NCUA have both issued statements your funds at insured banks and credit unions, respectively, is still in full force and will also continue without any change. For more information on how the NCUA insures members' funds at ARC FCU click here.

For more information on these scams and other consumer financial tools, visit the CFPB.