How to Protect Yourself Against Scams During a Crisis
Unfortunately, times of crisis can make it easy for scammers and fraudsters to try taking advantage of people. Crisis and financial hardship are two of the most ideal times for fraudsters to attack, because they know people are trying to make it through, and might be at their most vulnerable.
Here are common scams that you should be on the watch for:
Charity Scams: Fraudsters asking you for donations for organizations and causes that don't actually exist, or are illegitimate.
Provider Scams: Scammers contact you acting like a doctor or hospital staff. They tell you they’ve treated a recent sickness of one of your loved ones, and you owe them payment.
Bank/FDIC Scams: Scammers reach out and say they work for the FDIC or your bank. They inform you banks are limiting access to your accounts, or telling you there are security issues with your bank deposits. Their end-goal is to collect your personal banking information.
Phishing and Supply Scams: A health organization or business contacts you, claiming they have access to important medical testing kits, supplies, vaccines, or even medical cures. They are asking you to provide valuable personal information, like credit card numbers, banking accounts, medical information, or more.
Stimulus Check or Economic Relief Scams: When the government provides stimulus checks or unemployment funding, scammers might try contacting you, and pose as a government employee or the IRS. They will tell you that the only way to receive your money is through a fee, and that you need to provide your private banking information. In reality, the IRS will already have your direct deposit information, or address to send a check, based on your past tax returns.
Online Malware: : If you go online to browse and research a current crisis or event, and while you’re researching, you see a website that seems legitimate, however, it places malware on your computer that allows fraudsters access to your computer, so they can try to steal your private information.
Investment Scams: These are sometimes referred to as “research reports,” where someone claiming that products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure deadly diseases, will contact you. They will ask you for an investment in their company so they can help fight the disease – when really actually end up walking away with your money.
10 Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim
- The bank is the safest place for your money. You get the safety of knowing that your funds are secure and insured by the government. Keeping your money separate from the banking system, like physical cash or outside investments, does not allow the same level of protection as having it in the bank.
- Research before making a donation. Be cautious of any business, charity, or individual who contacts you for payments or donations – whether it’s in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail. Legitimate places offer multiple steps of validation, so be sure to call the national or regional office to check its legitimacy.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use common forms of communication – emails, texts, phone calls, and even websites – to try and trick you into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links, or open any attachments from sources in which you are not familiar. Also, never give your password, account number, or PIN to anyone.
- Enable multi-factor authentication for accounts that support it. Within the security settings for a lot of accounts, you can add a multi-factor authentication (MFA). This creates a second step to verify your identity when you log in – often by sending a one-time text code, or answering very specific questions in which only you know the answer.
- Ignore offers for vaccines, cures, or treatments. If there is a medical breakthrough, legitimate sources of information won’t report this news through unsolicited emails or online ads. Always research and be on alert about what information you share.
- Rely on official sources for the most up-to-date information during times of crisis. Visit official, government-backed websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Treasury (DOT), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and even your state’s department websites to keep track of the latest developments.
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up-to-date. Ensure your computer and mobile device security software, web browser, and operating systems have the most recent updates to best defend against viruses, malware, and other online threats. If able, turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes anytime they are available.
- Recognize and avoid bogus website links.Fraudsters and cybercriminals embed easy-to-click links to downloaded malware, and infect any device without you realizing it. The easiest way to detect bad links is to hover over the link, and view the actual URL address. The fraudulent URL link will often mimic a real, trustworthy link, but it will have slight differences. Here’s an example of what to look out for: www.HOMETOWN-Bank.com vs. HOMETOWN_Bank.com.
- Educate yourself before making any investments. Remember, during times of crisis there is also a high potential for fraud. Be very wary of companies claiming to help those in need, or have the ability to prevent, detect or cure diseases. For information on how to avoid investment fraud, visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website.
- Help others by reporting scams. Visit the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov to report suspected or confirmed scams. You can also stay up-to-date on the latest scams by visiting the FTC’s page at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts.
If you feel as though somebody is trying to get in to your account or that you are a victim of fraud, please contact us immediately by phone at (719) 309-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as the opinion of Central Bancompany, Inc., and/or its affiliates and does not imply endorsement or support of any of the mentioned information, products, services, or providers. All information presented is without any representation, guaranty, or warranty regarding the accuracy, relevance, or completeness of the information.