The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in one way or another. Unfortunately, one-way that some people are being impacted is by scams that have increased because the scammers know that people are more vulnerable right now.
Here are some scams that are happening as well as some ways to avoid them.
As you know, the government has issued stimulus checks to many Americans. There has been a lot of confusion around this and scammers are taking advantage of that by trying to get people to hand over their bank account information. They may call pretending to be the IRS and/or your bank asking you to verify your bank account information so that your check can be deposited. Don’t fall for this! The IRS will use information from your 2018 or 2019 tax filing in order to deposit your check into your account. If you don’t have an account on file with them, they will mail the check to the last known address they have. The IRS will never call, email, or mail asking you to confirm your account numbers. If you have not received your check and think you should have, you can visit the IRS website.
As some people are struggling to pay bills, scammers are using this as an opportunity to scare people. You may get a phone call saying your phone line will be shut off if you don’t follow the prompts. This is likely a scam so don't follow the prompts! Some people that have gotten a call like this are current on their phone bill. If you are concerned about your phone line, call the number you know is a legitimate number for them, which can be found on your monthly statements.
Debt Reduction Scams
As mentioned above, people are struggling to pay their bills right now and that opens up yet another avenue for scammers. If you get a phone call promising debt reduction techniques that sound too good to be true, it’s because they probably are! They will charge for their services and then you will likely not hear from them again. If you are struggling to pay your bills, many companies are offering hardship assistance so reach out to the credit card company, bank, or other lender individually.
Dave Ramsey has a wonderful program, Financial Peace University, that has changed lives and helped millions of people save money and pay off debt. They are offering a free 14 day trial right now (for a limited time) and you can read more about that on DaveRamsey.com.
We know that we should never click links in emails if we are not sure who sent us the email. That has been true for a long time now. But recently, spam emails and links have been popping up more often. There are even scammers accessing people’s email accounts and sending out bad links. So, if you get an email from someone you don’t know, don’t open the link. If it is from someone you know but the message seems off, don’t click the link until you call them to see if they actually sent it to you. I received a couple emails from people I knew that said “I should have sent this to you sooner” and there was a link. I didn’t click it because I knew that was not actually from them.
Coronavirus Test Kits and/or Updates
There are at-home test kits being advertised that are not approved by the FDA. Be weary of emails or texts that are offering to sell test kits and/or giving coronavirus updates. Go to the trusted websites to get the updates. In Ohio, you can go to https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home for updates.
Unfortunately, some scammers are even claiming to be a charity that is giving back in response to COVID-19. If you are giving to a new cause, be sure to do your research to make sure you are giving to a legitimate chairty. And of course, never give donations in the form of cash, gift cards, or by wire.
Whitaker-Myers Wealth Managers, LTD is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein.