Have you received strange phone calls, texts, or emails from people claiming to have your stimulus check or a test or a vaccine for coronavirus?
Have you tried to buy a pet, only to find out you’ve been scammed and lost that money?
As if fear of getting sick, concern over harming others, being locked in your house, and losing work weren’t enough, right now online scammers are working overtime to steal your identity or your credit card information.
Why? Because so many people are shopping almost exclusively online. The amount of credit card information floating around is astronomical, and it’s easy to get. Americans have already lost $12 million to coronavirus scams.
BuzzFeed reported on this scam where people advertise puppies for sale that can be shipped straight to your door. You pay for the dog, sight unseen, and then the seller contacts you to tell you the shipping company wants an additional $1200 for a special crate.
Once you’ve wised-up, it’s too late to get your initial $700 payment back.
It turns out, police and the Better Business Bureau have received many complaints about these scams supposedly selling puppies and kittens.
Scammers know that people have received stimulus checks. They also see that being stuck at home with not much to do is the perfect time to buy and train a new puppy. Voila! The perfect scam.
Lockdown is the perfect time for someone to post a fraudulent charity or funding campaign.
In normal circumstances, scammers take advantage of people wanting to help during a disaster.
Now, not only do people know that the unemployment rate has skyrocketed and others are looking for work. However, they are doing everything from home and can’t check out any of these charities for themselves.
The Federal Trade Commission suggests researching the charity’s website at one of the following sites:
Phone calls, texts, and emails from unknown numbers or sources should raise a red flag. However, scammers are still trying it because it fools some people!
The goal is to get you to give out your personal information. Scammers will pose as a government agency to get you to tell them your social security number and other personal information.
Malware is any software that comes in the form of an email attachment. When you click on it, it could do anything up to and including shutting down your computer.
While many people know not to click on links in emails from people they don’t know, these “phishing” scams still work. Government agencies will never send an email asking for your personal information with a link to click, even when a stimulus check may be coming.
Another form of malware is through mobile apps designed to look like coronavirus tracking apps.
A malicious Android malware app locked users’ phones and held them for “ransom.” Other malware apps secretly steal your sensitive data or record your keystrokes and eventually allow someone to control your device remotely.
Stick to an app store to avoid inadvertently downloading a malware app. Many domain names having to do with coronavirus are scam sites.
Fake COVID vaccines or cures
This is perhaps the most mean-spirited scam of all: a fraud that purports to have a cure or a vaccine for the virus.
Fortunately, media outlets are updating 24/7, and there is very little else to report on at the moment. You and everyone else will know as soon as there is a vaccine available.
At the moment, there are so many scam complaints that the FBI can’t keep up with them all.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to limit online buying and only use websites you trust – with good passwords. Don’t click on strange links and don’t give out your personal information to anyone over the phone, no matter where they say they are from.
Stay safe out there!