Financial Education Blog

How Fraudsters are Exploiting the Coronavirus and Ways to Protect Yourself

As the world reels from the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19), fraudsters are taking advantage of the panic to scam individuals and peddle useless products. Scams include phony websites, fake Go-Fund me accounts and phone calls and text messages that ask for personal information. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is aware of individuals impersonating officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. The Federal Trade Commission has already served several cease-and-desist letters to retailers trying to profit from fake or misbranded products claiming to combat the virus. Officials from the Secret Service are reporting that fraudulent emails are being sent that contain new information about the virus, often requiring people to share sensitive personal information to gain access to these fake updates. There are also emails circulating asking you donate to fake causes.

With an overwhelming amount of information being released daily, there are constant opportunities for scammers to take advantage of the situation. The best way to protect yourself is to remain vigilant!

Here are some tips from the FTC to help you keep the scammers at bay:
  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up-to-date.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC or experts saying that they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit https://www.cdc.gov/ or https://www.who.int/.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment or cure claims for the coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect or cure the coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
 7 17 reminds members that there are other measures they can take to protect their personal information. By visiting www.717cu.com/bestpractices, you can review safety information for online and mobile banking, mobile devices and email, as well as fraud prevention tips.

Here are a few quick tips to keep your information safe:
  • If you did not request to be contacted, do not give your account information or Online Banking login credentials to anyone who is contacting you by phone or online.
  • If you receive a phone call, email, text or other electronic communication that is suspicious, do not give out any personal or confidential information.
  • If you feel that your account information may have been compromised, please contact 7 17.
It’s important to note that 7 17 will never call you or text message you requesting your NetWorth24 Online Banking username or password, your account numbers, your social security number or other private, identifying information.