Be alert to scams related to the pandemic
On one hand, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought out the best in us with people across the country pitching in to help others. On the other, a small number of people are trying to take advantage of the situation. How can you guard against these scam artists? For starters, be aware of four common scams connected to the virus.
- Websites claiming to help and track the pandemic – Look out for websites that claim to help you work remotely or provide financial resources to the afflicted. These sites may try to trick you into giving up personal information, donate money or load malware onto your computer. Don’t trust information technology (IT) “helpdesk” agents you don’t know. And check out any obscure organization claiming to help virus victims through a reputable charity evaluator, such as charitynavigator.org.
- Products claiming to prevent or cure the disease – When there’s a real treatment for the virus, it will be big news, and the news will come from an organization like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov. Until then, ignore any claims of “miracle” cures. Not only will they waste your money, but, if you click on attachments from “phishing” emails advertising these fake cures, you could end up supplying crooks with your sensitive data.
- Financial help or "perfect" investments – The coronavirus has caused two separate, but related, areas of stress. The first is the health concern, and the second is the financial/investment component. The enormous volatility of the financial markets has caused much concern among investors, and scammers are seizing the opportunity to offer financial assistance or "risk-free" or "guaranteed" investments "perfect" for this particular time. Again, responding to these types of offers can bring you nothing but trouble. Your best move is to stick with a long-term investment strategy based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.
- Distribution of corona relief checks – Regarding stimulus checks, you will not have to verify information online or over the phone, that being your personal information or your eligibility to receive a check. U.S. government officials will never call you to ask for bank information, your credit card number or your Social Security number. And for that matter, you will never be asked for money. Some have reported being offered rushed processing of their check in exchange for payments made through a bank wire transfer or by the deposit of gift cards. These are scammers. If you receive such a contact, report them to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
One more suggestion: Warn your older relatives and friends about the increased potential for scams. Older adults are usually the most susceptible to fraud, and now, when they may be more isolated than before, they may well be even more vulnerable. Urge them not to make any sudden, out-of-the-ordinary financial moves.
Edward Jones takes fraud prevention seriously. We follow strict privacy practices, screen all of our partners extensively, regularly test our systems and consult with expert security firms. Above all, our financial advisors know each of their clients personally which helps us identify any out-of-the-ordinary account activity. If you would like to learn more about how you can help protect yourself and your family, contact a financial advisor today.