Question: I am so worried about all the scams going around because of COVID-19. How can I protect myself?
I am sorry that during this difficult time you must worry about scammers trying to take advantage of you. Unfortunately, it is true that when there is a crisis, people try to use it to their advantage to scam people. It is important we know the common scams out there so we can protect ourselves.
Most of the scams we are seeing related to COVD-19 are phone and text messages that aim to prey on people’s fears of the virus. These messages may promote a false cure for the virus, at home testing options, or even state they are calling from the “FCC Financial Care Center” and offering money.
There are no financial payments coming from the FCC. These scams are trying to get your banking information. Never give out banking information over the phone when the person has called you. Even if you believe you need to provide banking information for a valid transfer of funds or payment, do not provide this information unless you initiate the call and can be sure the number is correct.
Another common scam going around is one that attempts to sell insurance coverage. Sadly, the scammers will find any way to try and get you to respond to them and then provide personal information or payments.
As with any scams there are some basic things you can do to protect yourself. Do not respond to any calls or text messages. Scammers can sometimes manipulate the caller ID so the number may even seem valid or close to a real number you are familiar with. If the call is from a company that you know is real, then look up that company’s phone number and call it yourself directly. That way you know you are talking to the right company and not a scammer pretending to be from that company.
Do not click on any links inside of emails or text messages. If someone you know sent you a link that looks suspicious call that person and verify that they sent the link to you. Even then, it is not safe to open links people may send via text or email. Your own friends and family may unwittingly be forwarding something that is a scam.
This type of vigilance to avoid scams is always important. But now more than ever it is easier to let our guard down when we are scared and perhaps alone more than before. Let this be a good reminder to be careful and thoughtful about responding to anyone reaching out to you via phone, text or email.
It can feel worrisome to know that there are scammers trying to seek out vulnerable people during this difficult time. Know that you are safe, and these attempts at scams can be avoided. They generally send them to a lot of phone numbers and emails and are not targeting you individually. By following the safety tips provided you can protect yourself from financial harm.
Martha Shapiro can reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.