You’re closely following guidelines to protect you and your family’s health against COVID-19. But it’s important to protect your financial health as well. Here are five tips to keep your financial and personal information safe from scammers, both online and off.
- Screen Your Calls
Illegal robocalls are on the rise, as scammers try different ploys to separate you from your hard-earned money. They’re hawking everything from work-at home positions to coronavirus vaccinations or remedies. The best way to guard against these fraudulent calls is simply not to answer. And don’t rely on your caller ID either. Thieves use a scheme called spoofing, faking the name and number that shows up on your phone. If you do answer one of these calls, hang up and don’t press any numbers. To limit unwanted calls, add your number to the National Do Not Call list.
- Don’t Click on Email Links or Attachments
These scams, also known as phishing, claim to be from legitimate sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations. By enticing you to click on a link, you could inadvertently download a virus onto your computer or mobile device. Thieves use this malware to gain access to your financial information, resulting in identity theft. If you are suspicious of an email requesting you click on a link or open an attachment, review the FTC’s advice on how to recognize phishing. If it’s a scam, report the message and delete it.
- Never Provide Personal Information
Phishing scams also use emails and texts from companies or agencies you might know, requesting personal information such as your account numbers, Social Security numbers or your login and password credentials. Keep in mind that legitimate financial or government institutions never ask for personal or financial information via email and certainly not login credentials.
- Research Charity Requests
During a crisis, it’s natural for people to want to help. That’s what scammers count on. Before choosing to donate money through charities or crowdfunding sites, make sure they’re legitimate. Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. If you’re looking for a charity to support, organizations such as BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator and Charity Watch can help you find a highly rated one.
Never send donations using cash, gift card or by wiring money. There is no way you’ll be able to recoup your money.
- Shop Wisely
With certain products now in demand, online scammers are trying to entice consumers to purchase items such as cleaning, health and medical supplies. However, it’s a too-good-to-be true scenario. Once you place your order, they take your money and your products never show up. Before you do business with anyone, do an online search to see if it’s a real business and if there has been any complaints lodged against it.
A Final Word: Take a Proactive Approach
The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to take simple steps to protect your personal information and finances.
- Don’t share personal information over the phone, email or mail.
- Keep your Social Security in a secure location and don’t carry it in your wallet.
- Shred paper documents with personal information.
- Check your credit reports regularly.
- Visit the FTC website for scam alerts.
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Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or GreenPath Financial Wellness counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.
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