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Tips to Avoid Coronavirus Financial Scams

The Department of Banking and Securities is urging us to be aware of potential financial scams trying to take advantage of the current Coronavirus situation. Here are a few reminders of things to look out for:

  • Sense of urgency and limited time offers. Scammers will attempt to prompt you into immediate action and catch you off guard. No government agency will call you asking for payment or take punitive action against you if you don't act quickly.
  • Payment with wire transfer or gift cards. Once information is provided, the money is essentially gone and you cannot get it back.
  • Secrecy and the need to not tell anyone. Never make a decision without consulting a credible and trustworthy source.
  • Low or minimal risks with guaranteed high returns. Be cautious of any offer that guarantees a high rate of return with little or no risk or does not disclose risk.
  • Unsolicited offers, including social media avenues. A new post on your Facebook wall, a tweet mentioning you, a direct message, an email, a text, a phone call, or any other unsolicited communication regarding an investment "opportunity" related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Watch out for fake CDC emails: Be careful with emails claiming to be from the CDC or other organizations offering information on the virus. Do not click on links or open attachments you do not recognize. Fraudsters can use links in email to deliver malware to your computer to steal personal information or to lock your computer and demand payment. Be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received.

Pennsylvanians can protect themselves by actively exercising caution. If you have received an unsolicited phone call, when in doubt, hang up. Never provide credit card or other financial or personal information as part of an unsolicited phone call and think twice if you are being pressured to act now.

The following are red flags of potential fraud and scams:

  • Has someone contacted you unexpectedly? If you weren't expecting a phone call or didn't initiate the contact, it should be a red flag.
  • Have they promised you something?
  • If they're offering you something that seems too good to be true, it's a red flag.
  • Have they asked you to do something? Are they asking you for money or account information? If you didn't initiate the conversation, don't provide it.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, contact your local law enforcement.


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