According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers quickly adapted their game to take advantage of the coronavirus this year. Many of their scams are created to target the vulnerable, whether that be emotionally, financially, or mentally, in order to exploit those in desperate positions looking for a glimmer of hope and assistance.
The FTC compiled a list of five quick tips to help the public recognize and defend against illegitimate parties trying to manipulate people for profit, and the team at RGVision Media has added our insight, as well. Although much of this information is geared toward COVID-19-related scams, these tips also apply beyond the scope of the pandemic.
Hang up on robocalls.
The IRS, the police, immigration officers, and other officials will never call you, and other automated calls are not legitimate. If a matter is really important, they will send you something in the mail. You can simply hang up on these types of calls with no consequences.
Ignore offers for vaccinations and home test kits.
Any person selling a product that claims to treat or test for the COVID-19 that is not approved or administered by a physician is potentially harmful and will likely not have real effect on your health or test results.
Fact check information.
It’s not hard to share a compelling post on social media. However, this can spread significant misinformation and can have harmful effects on the general public. Make sure to verify information with a reputable source, such as federal, state, and local government websites, before passing it on.
Know who you are buying from.
Online ads or posters may say that they have specific high-demand items like medical supplies, hand sanitizers, cleaners, and other products for sanitation during the pandemic, but many of them will take your money and never deliver while leaving you with no way to contact them for a refund. Stick to well-known companies or stores to get your much-needed products.
Don’t respond to calls, texts, or emails about money from the government.
Anyone offering vacations or money over the phone will not give it to you. Again, never give your credit card information over the phone.
Other Types of Scams:
“Users should also be wary of email scams posing as official accounts, like PayPal, Apple, Netflix, or other entities that a person may likely have accounts with,” explained Kelsey Greene, certified digital marketing agent for RGVision Media. “Be especially suspicious if they come with a warning about your account, such as a refund, misplaced order, or your account being hacked. These phishing emails often include the company logo, making it appear as though it were from the company itself.”
However, anyone can save a company logo from Google Images and paste it into an email. Thankfully, there are some telltale signs that the email is a fake, and we have some tips of our own to help keep your confidential information safe.
One way to know that the email is not from the company is if it begins with “Dear Customer” or another greeting that doesn’t specify you as the recipient. Even if it is addressed with your name, be cautious and examine the body of the email for typos, grammar errors, or unusual language. If the email contains a link, button (such as “Log into PayPal”), or a phone number for you to contact them, never use it. Instead, leave your email entirely and log into your account through the company’s app or in a new web browser to see if there is really something wrong. If your account appears to have everything in order, delete the email.