Beware of Coronavirus Scams | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Beware of Coronavirus Scams

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we’ve seen an amazing response from the North Texas community toward providing for and keeping one another safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, during tough times, there will always be those who try to take advantage of the vulnerable. With so much news and information coming out each day, it’s important to be aware of scammers who prey on both our sense of instability and our hope for ways out of this current hardship.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT

According to the Dallas Regional Chamber, email phishing scams and spam increased by nearly 700 percent in the first three weeks of March, including more than 9,000 email schemes related to coronavirus.

Two of the most widely seen scams involve the rollout of economic impact payments from the IRS and drugs claiming to treat/prevent coronavirus. What you need to know:

 

IRS Payments
The only legitimate source of information about economic impact payments is the IRS itself. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Never give your Social Security number or bank account/credit card information over the phone to someone claiming to be from the IRS or a company that “can help you get paid faster.” If you get a robocall (prerecorded phone call), hang up immediately.

Here’s a guide to help you know how it’s really the IRS calling or knocking at your door.

You should also watch out for companies that suggest you can get a faster payment if they fill out information on your behalf—or if you sign over your check to them. And finally, be aware of scammers that may send you a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, asking you to call a number or verify information online in order to cash that check.

 

Coronavirus Drugs
The FDA has not approved any treatments or preventives for coronavirus. Certain drugs have been in the news as potentially viable, but those treatments are purely experimental. Read more about the false advertising on the Federal Trade Commission’s website. Be on the lookout for scammers calling or knocking on doors in white lab coats or hazmat gear claiming to be with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention selling fake cures, vaccines and medical advice on unproven treatments. Scammers have also come up with schemes involving:

  • Testing—calling or knocking on doors claiming to be with the CDC selling fake at-home coronavirus tests.
  • The supply chain—fake shops to sell in-demand medical supplies.
  • Providers—pretending to be doctors or hospitals who’ve treated a family member, asking for payment.

WATCH OUT FOR RED FLAGS

Scammers have a number of tactics to sound convincing. These are a few surefire signals someone is trying to target you:

  • Urgency—using pressure or fear to get you to act.
  • Scarcity—claims of limited quantity, so you must “buy now.”
  • Social consensus—the implication that everyone else is “using it” or “doing it,” too, so you’ll be left out if you don’t join in.
  • Credible sources—claims of affiliation or “working with” reputable businesses or organizations.
  • Alternative giving—asking for donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money.

NEVER click on links from sources you don’t know. Not only will they lead you astray, they may introduce viruses into your computer or phone.

PREVENTION RESOURCES

Check these websites to keep up-to-date tips on scams and how to keep safe from them:

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consumer information site has an ongoing list of scams and several resources on how to spot scams and other false information.

The Dallas Regional Chamber has a number of tips on how to protect your business from cyber scams.

The Internal Revenue Service has in-depth information on schemes related to economic impact payments.

This article was published on: Apr 16, 2020