As your real estate agent, I’m always looking out for the best interests of my clients. So, I wanted to make you aware of some new scams that have arisen as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). While the majority of people in this country have taken this opportunity to help individuals in their communities, others are using fraud and deception in an attempt to profit off of this crisis. Don’t let them. Below are five things you can do to avoid falling into a coronavirus trap, courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission.
1. Ignore offers for vaccines, cures, and at-home test kits.
As of now, there are no FDA approved vaccines or cures for COVID-19, and if there were, they would have to be administered by a licensed medical professional. The same is true for coronavirus and antibody tests. Some scammers are even setting up fake drive-through testing facilities to profit off the fears of others. Avoid all of these traps by talking to a doctor or pharmacist for all of your testing and pharmaceutical needs.
2. Screen your calls.
If you’ve noticed an increase of unknown numbers appearing on your phone, there’s a reason: robocalls flourish in times of crisis. Con artists are hopping on the phones and posing as everything from health insurance companies to debt collection agencies to scam people out of their money. Remember to never give sensitive information over the phone unless you are 100% sure you are speaking to a verified source.
3. Look out for phishing emails and texts too.
Similar to phone calls, scammers are using email and text to trick people into providing sensitive information like their Social Security or bank account numbers. Keep in mind that the government will never ask you for your Social Security number via email or text, and the same is true for banks and credit card companies when it comes to your accounts. Make sure to only correspond with these agencies through secure websites and apps.
4. Double-check charities.
The good news is there are a lot of organizations out there trying to help people through this pandemic. The bad news is there are also a lot of imposters. Avoid scammers by vetting charities online and only making donations through secure online portals. Most major banks and credit card companies offer fraud protection, in the case that you accidentally give money to a phony charity. You can also help by reporting any imposters to the FTC Complaint Assistant.
5. Stay informed.
Scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to trick people out of their money. Stay ahead of their schemes by regularly checking the FTC’s coronavirus scam website and following the CDC for the latest updates on protective measures, testing guidelines, and drug developments. And, as always, I’m only a phone call away if you’d like to discuss this further.
Stay informed, stay safe, and stay in touch!