COVID-19 Scams Targeting Seniors on the Rise
Since the rise of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), scammers of all sorts have come out with new schemes to prey on the current world situation and everyone’s emotions. There are several coronavirus scams out there, and these scams are being reported to and watched by the Federal Trade Commission.
We have outlined 5 of the major categories of coronavirus scams being used. Most often, scammers will seek out Seniors as would-be-victims. Because of this, we want you to be informed about these scam types so that you can recognize them if they come up – and protect yourself from these criminals’ deeds.
1. Vaccination and Home Test Kits
For this coronavirus scam, scammers use the fear of the disease itself as a way to trick Seniors out of their money. Some scammers will call on the phone, and others will go door-to-door trying to sell COVID-19 vaccines and test kits. Let’s be clear about this. This is a brand new virus. The US Government does not have a vaccine for coronavirus at this time and won’t for quite some time. There are some reports of a fake scam letter circulated from government agencies, promising tests and vaccines. To be clear, tests are extremely limited right now and are only available to those with advanced symptoms through hospitals and other medical clinics. Hence, test kits are not mailed out, or peddled curbside.
2. Government Relief Checks/Payments
Scammers are, again, using fear to intimidate and steal money from their victims. This coronavirus scam can take many forms. They can call you or email you looking to get your bank and routing number to “transfer directly to your account” the money promised by the Government. They’ll even add “we want to get your share transferred before the funds run out.” Once they have access to your bank account, they’ll use that info to withdraw all the money from your account. In reality, however, checks will come via mail or direct deposit (if the IRS already had your bank information from your latest tax filing) directly from the US Government – not from someone promising to have it transferred directly to you. Hang-up on them, or delete the email!
3. Donations for Those in Need
Other times, scammers take a softer approach. Rather than scaring their victims into action, they will tug at their heart strings. For this coronavirus scam, scammers will pose as representative of a fake charity, nonprofit or even a government agency of some kind. They will be seeking “donations” to benefit those out of work, or those who are “losing everything” due to COVID-19 and the declining economic conditions. Again, don’t fall for it. Delete or report the coronavirus-scam email to the FTC, or hang-up the phone. If for some reason, the charity sounds legit, do your research first.
4. Fake Robocalls
We all get fake robocalls now. While some promise “a quick, cash sale of your home,” some are now using the topics listed above as their coronavirus scam. Our advice is to simply hang-up. Don’t let them keep you on the phone. Their whole job is to dig and dig until they find a way to get your money and information. The longer you stay on the phone, the closer you are to falling for their schemes.
5. Phony Emails
There have been many fake emails being sent out, as early as February of this year. These phony emails are disguised to “look like” they are coming from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Don’t click any links, and delete the email permanently. The links often use Phishing technology to “look into your computer” and take personal and bank account information. Other links dump bad computer viruses on your machine. Likewise, these same links can be sent in texts too! Bottom line is…Don’t click the links!
One more thing, remember on most all of these coronavirus scams and others that will most certainly come up, scammers are always trying to rush “the deal.” They don’t want you to think too much about what they are asking you to do, and they certainly don’t want you to talk to anyone and get their thoughts. But that’s what we recommend doing – call someone you trust and ask them what they think, and you think long and hard about it too!
Should you come across a Coronavirus scam or scammer and need to report it, you can do so with the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint.