Times of crisis bring out opportunists, the worst of which are scam artists who prey on the needs and fears of a society, often targeting its most vulnerable members. Make sure that as you keep your hands clean and away from your eyes, nose, and mouth, that you keep all your senses alert...especially common sense. Here are some types of scams you might encounter over the next few months that focus profiting off the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic:
Prevention from and Treatments for COVID-19
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is already cracking down on the quacks. This week they announced they'd send letters to seven companies that may violate federal law by making deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims about their products to prevent or treat COVID-19. The products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes it very clear: There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Because it's a viral infection, only its symptoms can be treated, such as with fluids to reduce dehydration and medication for fever reduction.
The most effective way to prevent illness is to avoid contact with the virus. The good news is this preventative measure doesn't need to be purchased. For more information on the effective steps you can take to avoid illness, take a look at the CDC's specific guidelines.
Received an email from the CDC or a text message from an expert claiming to have special information about the virus? Scammers are using emails and messaging like this to do everything from infect your computer with viruses and get you to click on links that bring you to fake sites where you're asked to input personal information, such as your Social Security number, a credit card number, or financial institution logins and passwords.
Keep these tips in mind when you're on your computer or smartphone:
- Avoid clicking on links on emails and text messages, even if they look like they're coming from companies you know and trust. These types of emails are easily hoaxed by scammers. Instead, type in the URLs yourself to sites you want to visit.
- Keep your security software updated on your computers and mobile devices. Ideally, set automatic updates to protect you from viruses and security threats. If you don't have any security software, install it.
- Use multi-factor authentication to protect your accounts. Multi-factor authentication protects your accounts by making it harder for scammers to get into your business. It requires two credentials to enable you to get into your account: something you have, like a code you get through a text message on your phone, and something you are, like your fingerprint scan.
This pandemic will cause financial worry and difficulties for many people, which is another opportunity for fraudsters to line their pockets. A sad story may have you reaching for your purse or wallet, but think first. If you are feeling pressured, or the person asking for the donation wants the money in cash, or through a gift card or by having it wired, don't do it. If you want to help, do some research first on a site, such as Charity Navigator. Here are more tips from the FTC for how to help and donate wisely.
If you feel that your account with Hanscom FCU has been compromised by a scammer, please contact us at 800-656-4328 immediately.
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