One way or another, we all have been affected by the turbulence created by COVID-19. Our workplace environment has changed, travel, family and social engagements are at a distance or halted, our financial wellness is on high alert and what we prioritized earlier in the year may have changed.
Recently the Better Business Bureau (BBB) published the most comprehensive list of COVID-19 scams that we have been able to find. Here is a summary of three of those scams.
- Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Check) Scams
Whether you are a small business getting a much needed SBA Payroll protection Program (PPP loan), an individual counting on your stimulus check or an employee who has found themselves unemployed and desperately awaiting your unemployment check, there are things you all have in common – you are waiting on money. The communication of how you will receive these funds is hard to come by, so the risk of being scammed into providing personal and financial information to the wrong person is high. Be very careful. Slow down and validate the source.
Ensure the bank that you are dealing with is who is sending any paperwork or electronic signature requests.
- Phishing Scams
As discussed in our previous blog, the risk of phishing scams are increased right now. You may get an email from an official department of your employer to offer IT support or claim the company issued computer has a virus. They may use scare tactics, stating the computer will crash if you don’t act immediately, all in an attempt to gain access to your computer remotely, or to your personal or company’s information.
- Government Impersonation
Another common phishing scam brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is fake emails and text messages claiming the government needs you to take an “online coronavirus test” by clicking a link they provide. No such test currently exists but if you click on the link, scammers can download malware onto your computer and gain access to your sensitive personal information.
Please continue to share this information for protecting your clients personal and financial information through this crisis.
- Check your financial accounts on a regular basis. Account Takeover (ATO) is up 347% in 2020. ATO is a form of identity theft where a fraudster illegally uses bots to get access to bank accounts, e-commerce sites and other types of accounts.
- Do not click on links from unknown sources. If you receive an unsolicited text or email from someone you don’t know asking you to click on a link, don’t do it. Scammers are using links and attachments like these that will download malware onto your electronic devices and steal personal information.
- Know your financial sources. No matter how tempting, slow down and research any request before handing over sensitive information, such as your name, address, or banking information. Scammers often try to earn consumers’ trust by impersonating reputable, official institutions.
- Ignore calls from unknown sources. Remember, neither the government, nor any healthcare related agencies make unsolicited calls to individuals.
- Watch out for unemployment scams. Only apply for unemployment benefits through official channels, otherwise, your personal information will be at risk.
- Be alert to stimulus payment scams. According to official sources, payments are expected to be issued automatically, with no action required from most people. If you get an email for documents to sign and your financial institution did not send your specific instructions that that is what to expect, call them to verify, do not click.
Stay healthy and stay secure as you navigate the current environment, and now more than ever, share best practices with employees and clients.
For Identity Protection and Financial Wellness Solutions and Strategies, contact KII Consulting, Inc. at 1-800-201-5563 or email [email protected].