Social distancing, sheltering in place... phrases that express the seriousness of our “new normal”. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that fraudsters and scammers will use COVID-19 as a means to get their hands on your money.
One of the most disturbing COVID-19 scams begins with a phone call. Your caller ID may indicate that the call is coming from a health care government official and that a loved one has been hospitalized with coronavirus (COVID-19). They attempt to get you to give them credit card information, right now, over the phone, to “prepay the hospital bills”. But it doesn’t stop there. Scammers are now showing up at your door. How do you stay safe from these predators?
When on the phone
• Never trust Caller ID.
• Understand that government agencies are not going to call you.
For valid information, check their websites.
• If in doubt, ask for the caller’s name and the name of the organization/agency they claim to represent. Hang up and call the organization using a number from their website to determine the legitimacy of the call.
When at home
• Just like the phones, government agencies are NOT going to pay you a visit at home. Do NOT let these folks into your home.
• Ask for ID and their supervisor’s name to contact to “confirm” the visit.
• Again, never call a number that is provided to you, always look them up yourself and never provide personal information.
A final reminder
Keeping your personal information secure is your top priority. Remember that any financial institution with which you do business will never ask you for confidential information like your full Social Security number, full account number, debit or credit card numbers, CVV or PIN in an email, via a website, or from an unsolicited phone call. If you receive that kind of communication, contact the company from which it supposedly came to verify the validity.