While the general public continues to keep their health top of mind during coronavirus, our financial health is just as important. Fraudsters are leveraging fears stemming from coronavirus as an opportunity to scam consumers and businesses.
Watch out for emails, texts, posts or ads offering vaccines, products or medical tips in exchange for your information, money or clicks.
DO NOT provide anyone information that is urging you to divulge personal financial details, such as
- Account number
- Debit/credit card number
- PIN number
- Online banking login, etc.
“Spoofed” Phone Numbers
Fraudsters can “spoof” a phone number to make it look like they are calling from the credit union. Do NOT rely on caller ID to ensure the credit union really is calling you.
Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. Phishing emails will use the virus as a lure in the subject line to entice you to open it. The email’s text may contain false news about the COVID-19. Some emails will claim to be from the CDC or WHO with a coronavirus map that wants you to click a link to open the map. The link is fraudulent and will download a virus or malware on your computer to steal personal data. “The best practice in avoiding scams and hackers is to not click on any links in emails you were not expecting or you did not request,” the message says. “Just delete the email.”
Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:
- Download our FCCU Card Manager App to monitor your card activity 24/7/365. Set up transaction alerts, turn your card on/off as needed, set travel alerts, or even turn off transaction types, such as international transactions to protect your account. Learn more about FCCU Card Manager
- Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
- For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) websites directly.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
- Do your homework when it comes to donations. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, DO NOT do it.
- Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus.
During fearful and uncertain times like these, be wary of fake companies offering online loans.
Here are some tips to verify a online lender authenticity
- Legitimate lenders do not ask for upfront payment.
- It is illegal to make loan offers over the phone. Any offer must be put in writing and it must prominently mention all associated fees.
- Go to the BBB website and select “Check out a business or charity” and then search the lenders name, URL, email, physical address and phone number.
- The lenders website will have a physical address, telephone number and email available on their site.
- Search reviews online for the lender.
- Lenders and loan brokers are required to register in the states where they do business. Check registrations through the Attorney General’s office or Department of Banking of Financial Regulation in the state of the lender.
Here are some signs of a legitimate lender
- Easy to reach. The lender will have a physical address, telephone number, email available on their website. They may also have an online chat function. They’re easy to reach and have the online presence of an established business.
- Good customer service.The staff will be trained in customer service and employees of a reputable lender can answer your questions and offer suggestions when appropriate.
- Interest in credit history. No legitimate lender is going to lend money without checking on your ability to pay it back. Even if they advertise that they specialize in those with poor credit, they’re still going to run a credit report and base their loan options on the findings.
- Search reviews online. Yelp!, the Better Business Bureau, Google Reviews and other review sites are terrific resources for vetting potential lenders. If you see multiple users tagging a business as a scam online, then it’s best to stay away.
- Complete loan terms. A legitimate lender will go over the loan terms with you and send them to you in writing too. They’ll be clear about terms.
- No upfront payment. Legitimate loan companies won’t ask for upfront payment either in cash or gift cards. This is a common tool that scammers use to get untraceable money from victims.
Never give out your social security number, date of birth, bank account number or other important personal information unless you are convinced you’re dealing with a responsible lending institution.