Some Things Don’t Change – Scammers and COVID-19

by | Apr 14, 2020 | COVID-19, Smart Financial Tips

In times of uncertainty, there’s a comfort to the familiar and expected.  The smell of coffee in the morning, your favorite shirt or pair of pants, the view out your window.  Unfortunately, the familiar scammers trying to take advantage of current events is continuing as well.  They are up to their usual tricks of trying to steal your personal information and/or your money.  While they’re now using COVID-19 as a wrapper around their scams, it’s still the same con on the inside.  I’ll give examples of some of the COVID-19 scams going around so you know what to look out for, but first I’d like to remind you of how you can protect yourself:

  1. Hang up on robocalls (or even better, don’t answer numbers you don’t recognize).
  2. Ignore things that are too good to be true (in this case it’s offers of home test kits or available vaccinations).
  3. Don’t reveal personal information in an email. If you wouldn’t put it into a postcard, don’t put it in an email.
  4. Be suspicious of any requests for personal information. If someone calls and asks for personal information, hang up. Also, see tip #1.
  5. Don’t click on links in an email, Facebook message, text message, etc. without verifying it first. Verify it with a method other than how it was sent.
  6. Use a password manager. Dashlane, LastPass, and 1Password are all great options.
  7. If you’re suspicious of something, trust that instinct.

Remember that a scammer is trying to separate you from your personal information or from your money by manipulating you. Some of the scams that have been observed are:

  • Calls or texts claiming to be from WHO, the CDC, or charities asking for personal information or money
  • Offers of free virus test kits (e.g., “click here” for your free virus test kit)
  • Miracle cures
  • HVAC duct cleaning to “protect” your home and family from the virus
  • Calls or texts to “verify” personal information to release stimulus payments
  • A computer anti-virus program that protects you from COVID-19
  • Promise of free passes to Netflix
  • Promise of free safety masks
  • An app that promises to show how many people around you are infected
  • Fill out a “census form” to get a stimulus check
  • Texts demanding you take a “mandatory” online COVID-19 test
  • An email telling you that you’ve come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 that instructs you to download and print an attached spreadsheet so you can bring it your nearest coronavirus testing site

It’s even more important to have good sources of information right now.  This FTC website has more information on scams and some great tips on how to protect yourself.  For more information on the coronavirus and the government’s response, you can go to the federal government’s website or to your state, county, and city government websites for more localized information.  And of course, everyone here at Team Hewins stands ready to help you through this unprecedented time.

Ben Watson

Principal and Technology Manager

Team Hewins, LLC (“Team Hewins”) is an SEC-registered investment adviser; however, such registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training, and no inference to the contrary should be made. We provide this information with the understanding that we are not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or tax services. We recommend that all investors seek out the services of competent professionals in any of the aforementioned areas.