Scammers are becoming increasingly intelligent and are developing new ways to access consumer funds and personal information. Here at CTFCU, our biggest priority is the financial wellness of our members, which includes keeping their money safe. We’ve put together this series to help you recognize the potential signs of fraud and ways to protect yourself.
Next in our series: Coronavirus Fraud
COVID-19 has caused a major global crisis, also affecting the United States. Government issued stay-at-home orders have contributed to job losses and the temporary closure of many businesses. In response, the United States Government plans to distribute widespread stimulus funds to citizens to help ease the negative financial impact from lost economic activity. These expected funds represent an attractive target for thieves, seeking to capitalize on the situation. Having the correct information, can significantly reduce your chances of becoming a victim. Here are a few items to consider regarding how the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will handle the distribution of stimulus funds.
- Most Americans will receive their funds via direct deposit into the bank account listed on their most recent tax return.
- Those who normally receive tax refunds via a paper check, should expect stimulus funds to arrive through the same delivery method.
- The government will never initiate a phone call to ask for your social security number, bank account information, credit card number, or online banking passwords. Anyone who receives a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS should hang up immediately.
- No government agency will ask for any payment upfront in order to process your stimulus funds. This includes any fees or charges they may ask for. Hang up immediately on any caller making this type of request.
- Consumers should also be wary of any emails requiring a payment and avoid clicking any links in that correspondence.
- Stimulus payments are exactly $1200.00 for qualifying individuals and $2400.00 for couples who filed jointly. If you receive a check for an unusual amount it is fraudulent.
While the government issued Economic Impact Payments are a main focus for fraudulent activity during this time, scammers are using other methods to retrieve sensitive information and funding.
- Individuals and businesses are selling fake cures for COVID-19. It is important to know that there is currently not a cure for the Coronavirus, and any claims stating this are false.
- Malicious websites and apps are posing as informative sites with Coronavirus related updates. These websites are used to gain access to your device and lock it until the scammer receives payment. Consumers should avoid clicking any unfamiliar links. Coronavirus updates can be found at www.coronavirus.gov or several other reputable news outlets.
- Fraudulent lending companies are offering loans for assistance during the pandemic. This is used as a way to gain access to sensitive personal information.
- Individuals have also received phone calls from someone claiming to be from a local police department requesting payment and personal information in exchange for coronavirus testing. The local police department does not test for COVID-19 and will not ask for payment or personal information.
We are currently in a very vulnerable state, and scammers are looking to take advantage of these circumstances. If you are contacted to pay a fee for your stimulus funds or are asked for any sensitive information via phone call or email, please report the scam to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint. The FTC has also created a webpage specifically for Coronavirus scams and what they’re doing to stop them https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing.