Protect Yourself from Coronavirus Scams with these Five Steps
Stay home, stay safe, and stay on top of the latest Coronavirus scams that are targeting consumers and businesses. As of April 15, 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had received over 18,000 reports of COVID-19 complaints totaling more than $13M in fraud loss since January 1, 2020.
Let’s put a stop to the most recent Coronavirus scams by educating ourselves and learning how to identify and avoid them. To do so, we’ve turned to the advice of the Federal Trade Commission, whose goal is to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace.
Here are five steps you can take to protect yourself from Coronavirus scams:
Avoid phishing scams. Do not respond to any phone calls, emails, or texts requesting your bank account information or Social Security Number (SSN). Neither the government nor any reputable business will contact you requesting this information.
We want you to know that Members Cooperative Credit Union will never contact you asking for your personal information such as your SSN, online banking username and password, or debit card PIN. If you receive an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be us, hang up and contact us directly at: 1-800-296-8871.
Don’t respond to texts, emails or calls about relief checks from the government. This is an easy way for government imposters to obtain your personal and account information. Likewise, bypass any claims alleging early access to your relief check, and do not respond. Instead, read this first.
Ignore online offers for vaccinations and at-home test kits and be cautious of offers for medical supplies from unknown suppliers. Scammers are selling fake cures and medical equipment to treat or prevent COVID-19 without proof their products work. Others will gladly accept payment for supplies but will fail to deliver the goods. To be safe, don’t buy from a site or business you’ve never heard of before.
Hang up on unwanted robocalls. Scammers are using unwanted robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes. Don’t rely on your caller ID to screen “legitimate” calls. The name and phone number may look valid, but scammers can fake this information, making it look like the call is coming from a reputable source.
Donate wisely and avoid charity scams. Imposters can pose as representatives of a familiar charity. Never donate to a charity with cash, a gift card, or by wiring money. Instead, go to the charity’s secure website and make the payment directly. Here are some additional tips to help you plan your donation.
What do I do if I think something is suspicious?
If something seems suspicious, like an email, phone call, text, or someone offering some type of service, the FTC recommends you “think critically”. Ask yourself three questions:
- Who is the message from? Do I know them? Do I trust them? Am I positive they are who they say they are? Double-check: government imposters are active right now.
- What do they want you to do? Are they trying to get you to act in some way? Do they want you to buy something, download something, or give up personal info?
- What evidence supports their message? It’s a good idea to be extra vigilant and fact-check information with a few reliable, independent sources. If the information in the message doesn’t hold up or seem accurate, do not engage.
During this uncertain time, we ask you to diligently monitor your accounts for suspicious activity and be on the lookout for scams. If you believe you’ve become a victim of a scam involving your account at the credit union, take immediate action:
- Call Members Cooperative Credit Union at: 1-800-296-8871 to place a fraud alert on your accounts.
- Report suspicious activity, whether related to your accounts at the credit union or otherwise, to the Federal Trade Commission.
The safety of our members and employees in our top priority. To view MCCU’s latest information regarding COVID-19, please visit: https://www.membersccu.org/COVID
To keep up with the latest scams, and what the FTC is doing, sign up to get Consumer Alerts.