Stay Safe from COVID-19 Scams

coronavirus, COVID-19, COVID, scams, stay safe from scams, scam protection

While you’re protecting yourself to prevent the spread of coronavirus, you should also be protecting your finances and your identity. Scam artists view times of crisis as a prime opportunity to take advantage of fear and uncertainty. It’s important to know the warning signs so you can defend yourself against their manipulation tactics.

During this pandemic, especially with the anticipated economic impact payments, cybercriminals are creating new ways to trick unsuspecting people into sharing sensitive information like financial account information. Those who expect to receive their economic impact payment via a check in the mail must also be wary of counterfeit checks. The United States Department of the Treasury along with the United States Secret Service have provided useful information to determine the legitimacy of a check. If you receive a paper check for your economic impact payment, look for these security features:

  • Treasury Seal with bleeding ink: There will be a seal to the right of the Statue of Liberty that reads “Bureau of the Fiscal Service.” If moisture is applied to the Treasury Seal, the black ink will bleed red.
  • Watermark: All U.S. Treasury checks are printed on watermark paper that reads “U.S. Treasury.” This watermark will be visible on both the front and back sides of the check when held up to a light source.
  • Microprinting: The back side of the check will be printed with a line of repeating “USA” that is visible when magnified, but appears as just a line to the naked eye.
  • Economic Impact Payment: This is the official name for these checks, and will be in the memo line on the lower right corner of the check beside the Statue of Liberty. The line below will read “President Donald J. Trump.”

Learn more about the security features in U.S. Treasury checks here to protect yourself from fraudulent Economic Impact Payments.

Here are additional steps you can take to protect yourself and your accounts from the heinous scams spreading during this time of crisis:

  • Never share your personal or financial information via email, text or social media message, or over the phone, especially your digital banking username and password.
  • Know that there is no “sign-up” process to ensure you receive your economic impact payment. There is also no “early access” to the payments. Any claim that you can receive your payment faster or speed up the verification process is a red flag of a scam.
  • Disregard claims for new vaccinations, online pharmacies, or at-home test kits. At this time, there are no authorized at-home kits that test for Coronavirus, or available vaccines or other treatments that cure Coronavirus.
  • Carefully review your emails, especially those pertaining to COVID-19. Do not click any links or open any attachments in unsolicited emails. These links usually lead to an unsecure copycat website, and the attachment could contain malware. Never download anything from an untrusted source.
  • Don’t fall for scare tactics. Scam artists attempt to obtain information by using threats like deleting your account if you don’t comply with their requests. Trust your gut and don’t be intimidated by ultimatums.
  • Think twice about work-from-home offers. Many people have lost their jobs, been furloughed, are working reduced hours, and numerous other circumstances. In this time where employment has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, scammers know that financial concerns may cloud better judgement against discerning their schemes.
  • Be careful of requests to donate to charities, coronavirus relief funds, and crowdfunding sites, especially if they ask for your personal information. If you do feel compelled to give, verify the organization’s legitimacy first, then donate directly to them, rather than donating to a company or person on their behalf. Don’t let anyone pressure or rush you into making a donation, and never make donations by gift card or wire transfer.
  • If you haven’t recently changed your financial account passwords, now is a good time to update and strengthen your passwords. Use a secure password manager to help you organize your passwords.
  • Take advantage of multi-factor authentication and biometrics whenever possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.
  • Regularly check your account in Digital Banking and closely inspect your monthly statements to quickly detect any fraudulent activity. Set up e-Alerts to be immediately notified of any activity on your account.

Robins Financial is committed to serving you and keeping you informed during this unprecedented time. Updates on everything we are doing in response to the COVID-19 outbreak are available on our website. Please check here for our most recent updates.