Beware of These Scams During COVID-19 Panic

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Several scams have cropped up in response to fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. As a valued GFCU member, we want to keep you updated on the scams that you should be aware of as you’re navigating through this uncertain time. Please protect yourself and your loved ones by staying on the lookout for the following scams:

  1. Criminals want to get their hands on your relief check.

The federal government recently passed a coronavirus relief bill that will provide stimulus checks to American families. Understandably, many people are eager to learn when and how they will receive their check. But criminals are taking advantage of the situation by posing as government agencies or organizations involved in the disbursement of the money. Details of the disbursement are still being ironed out, and anyone claiming they can get you the money now is a scammer.

As long as you have filed taxes for 2018 and/or 2019, you do not need to do anything else to receive your money. For more information on this topic, visit the IRS website on Economic Impact Payments.

  1. Don’t fall for at-home COVID-19 test kits.

One of the more deplorable scams being perpetrated right now is the marketing of vaccines and at-home test kits for COVID-19. Criminals are taking advantage of people’s anxiety for their health and the health of their loved ones. Please know that there is no COVID-19 vaccine or at-home test kit available right now. Any seller claiming to have these products is lying. Save your money and do not fall for this scam. If you think you or a loved one may have contracted COVID-19, please contact your local hospital’s emergency room immediately.

  1. Online sellers will try to scam you out of your money.

Criminals are peddling everything from at-home COVID-19 test kits to health insurance pitches and sanitation supplies. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and more. But before sharing any payment or personal information with a seller, make sure the organization and/or website is reputable. If you have never used the seller’s services before or bought items successfully from their website, it’s not safe to start now.

  1. Criminals will take advantage of your goodwill by posing as charitable organizations.

There are many non-profit and charitable organizations who could use your support right now. However, criminals know this and will use your goodwill to make a profit for themselves. Do your research on charitable organizations by looking them up on the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search, and/or Guidestar Nonprofit Directory. If you receive a phone call requesting money, offer to make the donation directly from the organization’s website instead of over the phone. Do not let anyone pressure you into giving money. And if someone requests your donation in cash, as a gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself.

Practicing these safety tips is a good idea at all times, but it’s especially important to be on your guard during a pandemic.

Safety tips to protect yourself:

  • Hang up on robocalls immediately. Although some recordings will say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from a call list, doing so may actually increase the number of robocalls you receive.
  • Don’t click any links in emails or text messages from sources you don’t recognize. Doing so could download viruses and malware to your device.
  • Fact check information you receive, especially if it seems too good to be true. Even well-meaning people may unintentionally pass on incorrect information. Check your facts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). You may also check the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website for information on current coronavirus scams.

In short, please use a healthy amount of skepticism with regard to COVID-19 claims, online sellers, and requests for donations. Your vigilance could save you and your loved ones a lot of money and stress.

Although there are criminals looking to take advantage of people during troubling times, there are still legitimate organizations who want to help you. Generations is one of those organizations. If you are worried about future payments on your Generations loan or credit card, please read this Message from Our CEO on the 90-day payment deferral we are currently offering on all of our consumer and home loans. Our credit union remains, as always, a resource for your financial health as we work through the COVID-19 pandemic together.