We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – it’s becoming increasingly important to be aware of possible fraud. In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission received more than 2.2 million reports of fraudulent activity from consumers like you and over $3.3 billion was lost. Top scams included identity theft, imposter scams, and online shopping/negative review schemes. To add to that, COVID-19 scams became prevalent for things like fake vaccines and tests.
Be aware and stay informed about these scams that are becoming more widespread in 2021.
With the pandemic still in full force across the globe, many scams are emerging that we never had to think about before. When it comes to COVID-19, always question the source you’re receiving your information from. Rather than clicking on a vaccination sign-up link you found on social media, for example, visit your state or local health departments’ page to find the proper channels. If receive a text message from one of your health care providers, including your pharmacy, call to verify it’s really them before clicking on any links.
Also, once you do get your vaccine, don’t post your vaccination card to social media. It’ll have personal information on it, including your full name, date of birth, where you got your vaccine, and the dates you got it, making you a prime target for identity thieves.
A new ruling from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) states that debt collectors are allowed to use text, email, social media, and voice messages for debt collection. Consumers will still have the right to opt out of receiving messages by requesting in writing for the collector to stop texting or emailing. Collectors also must give instructions for an easy way to opt out of receiving any more emails or text messages. The concern? Scammers will be looking to target anyone and everyone with these messages.
Watch out for phishing. This is when a criminal tries to gather your personal information while pretending to be an organization or person that you can trust. For example, a phishing text message might look legit and say it’s from a collector, but will take you to a false website and potentially add malware to your device. If you receive one of these emails, don’t click on anything or reply. Call your collector directly and delete the message if proven false.
Here are some other ways you can spot a scam:
- The collector is withholding information from you, such as who they are or who they work for
- They pressure you to pay immediately using a wire transfer or prepaid credit card
- They ask you to provide sensitive information, like your Social Security number
- They threaten to tell people you know about your debts
Because of COVID-19, millions of Americans are facing financial hardships. With unemployment rates skyrocketing, people are taking drastic measures to make money and find new jobs – and scammers are capitalizing on it.
If you apply for a job and the company says “you’re hired!”, but wants to you to pay for training yourself or you’re accidentally overpaid and need to send money back, that’s a major red flag. Scammers are capitalizing on this by impersonating hiring managers and then ghosting you once they have your personal information and money. The Better Business Bureau says to be extra cautious of positions that don’t require specialized training, such as generic work from home roles, package reshipment positions, caregivers, administrative assistants, and customer service reps.
Unfortunately, fraudsters aren’t slowing down any time soon. As we develop ways to prevent and stop them, they’re thinking of new scams to target people with. It’s important to stay informed, ask for appropriate identifications when necessary, and take extra precautions. If you’re a victim of a scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission.