Nine Coronavirus Financial Scams to Watch for
With so much financial uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, Americans are worried about their employment, stimulus checks and being able to pay their bills. They also need to be concerned about the uptick in financial scams. A leading personal finance site, MyBankTracker.com, compiled nine financial scams that consumers need to protect themselves from and the tips to avoid them.
- Paying a Fee to Get Your Relief Check – A thief calls and says a fee must be paid to get the emergency relief and asks for a credit card or bank account number. There is no fee to receive it.
- Student Loan Forgiveness in Exchange for a Fee – A scammer claims people are required to pay a fee to have interest or payment temporarily waived. There is no fee for the government relief.
- Fake Charities – Don’t give money to a “charity” that contacts donors by phone or email or to one people haven’t heard of. When making donations, contact reputable, well-known charities.
- Fake Loan Offers – Thieves pose as banks or financial institutions and say they can get a personal loan with no credit check and low interest. Then they request personal or financial information.
- Fake Government Grant – Some scammers say someone qualified for a COVID-19 government grant to receive financial relief, but the person must provide personal information such as name, address, birth date and Social Security number.
- Phishing Scams – Phishing emails appear to come from legitimate sources like a bank. They encourage people to apply – via a link – to defer credit card or loan payments. If the link is clicked, it directs people to a fake website asking for personal and financial data.
- Work From Home Scams – Thieves say they have work-at-home opportunities, but charge a fee to access the online job board. Others require a program or file to be downloaded. Downloading this installs malware and retrieves personal or financial data.
- Fake Medical Supplies – Fake websites claim to sell safety supplies like face masks and gloves or products to “prevent” the coronavirus. The Federal Trade Commission says, “There are currently no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)0 – online or in stores.” Only buy from reputable stores and look for a padlock in the address bar to indicate a secured site.
- Predatory Loans – Scammers offer unaffordable loan terms like high loan fees and high interest rates. Shop around for loans and contact at least three financial institutions to compare rates.