Scammers often capitalize on fear, and the coronavirus outbreak is no exception. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are warning against a surge in coronavirus scams that can be difficult to spot.
Here are some of the most prevalent coronavirus scams:
- The fake funding scam. In this scam, victims receive bogus emails, text messages, or social media posts asking them to donate to a research team on the verge of a drug and/or vaccine for COVID-19. Unfortunately, any money donated to these “funds” will go to scammers.
- The bogus health agency. Scammers send alerts appearing to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the WHO; however, they’re created by scammers. These emails sport the logo of the agencies that allegedly sent them, and the URL is similar to those of the agencies as well. — Victims believe legitimate agencies send these messages. While some of these emails provide useful information, they often also spread misinformation. Even worse, they infect the victims’ computers with malware.
- The phony purchase order. Scammers hack the computer systems at medical treatment centers to obtain information about outstanding orders for face masks and other supplies. The scammers then send the buyer a phony purchase order listing the requested supplies and demanding payment. The buyer wires payment directly into the scammer’s account.
- Deed-Transferring to Third Party. Scammers have told homeowners that by transferring the deed to their home to a third party, they will no longer be responsible for their mortgage payments. This is NOT true. Transferring a title does not relieve a borrower from their mortgage payments.
- Intentional Default. Scam artists urge homeowners not to pay their mortgage to get a loan modification. While there is no right to a loan modification, the terms and standards for a loan modification are always determined by the mortgage loan servicer – no one else.
- Advance Fee Scams. Avoid advance fee scams in which fraudulent companies promise loans if a consumer pays a substantial up-front fee first. Do NOT pay anyone asking for upfront/advance fees for loan modification services or mortgage forbearance services.
Keep the anti-malware and antivirus software on your computer current and strengthen the security settings on your devices.
Practice responsible internet usage. Never download attachments from unknown sources or click on links embedded in an email from an unknown sender. Don’t share sensitive information online, either. To verify a site’s authenticity, check the URL, and look for the lock icon and the “s” after the “http.”
Finally, it’s a good idea to stay updated on the latest news about the coronavirus to avoid falling prey to misinformation.
Spotting the scams
Scammers give themselves away when they ask for payment via specific means, including wire transfer or prepaid gift cards. Another giveaway is poor writing skills and misspelled words. “Breaking information” alerts allegedly sent by health agencies are another sign of a scam.
Avoid coronavirus financial scams and stay clear of the scam artists. For additional information, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s website. The California Department of Oversight (DBO) urges consumers and investors to be alert to scams and unlawful activities in the investment and other financial services industry.
MyPoint Credit Union
About MyPoint Credit Union:
MyPoint Credit Union, formerly Point Loma Credit Union, has been helping hundreds of Coronado families, charities, and businesses for decades. Coronado plays a big part in our membership, including a partnership with Stephen Wampler where we’ve named Camp Wamp as our official charity! For more than 70 years, we’ve helped over 30,000 members in seven branch locations make the most out of their finances so they can live life on their own terms. MyPoint Credit Union provides a full array of financial products and services, including savings, checking, loans, mortgages, and digital banking options. Also, through the credit union’s partnership with the CO-OP network, members have surcharge-free access to more than 30,000 ATMs across the country.