Fraudsters are using the collective fear surrounding COVID-19 to scam innocent people. Below are precautionary steps from the Federal Trade Commission and Homeland Security Investigations to avoid becoming a fraud victim.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or “experts” saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Remember that official U.S. government websites end in .gov
- Remember that government agencies do not call, text, or email. Check your mail, do not follow links to government sites on social media, and use government websites directly.
- Always inspect the URL of the website and verify the destination, especially when donating or shopping online.
- Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
- Beware of websites or individuals selling products claiming to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges, or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19 — online or in stores.
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
- Government agencies will not call or email about economic impact payments and will not refer to this as “stimulus” – do not open such emails or click on attachments.
- Government agencies will not contact anyone to verify or expedite payments.
- Beware of individuals requesting personal or banking information in exchange for COVID-19 products.
- Beware of pharmaceutical product information written in a foreign language or with misspellings.
- Do not buy prescription pharmaceuticals from third-party marketplaces or social media platforms.
- Reach out to your elderly friends and family members and warn them about these scams.
Visit the Vantage West Fraud Center for more information on how to protect yourself and your loved ones against fraud, not only during the pandemic, but always.
If you have any reason to believe you might be a fraud victim, or to report suspicious activity, verify whether any communication is legitimate, or ask any other questions about your account, please call us at 800.888.7882.
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