Don’t Be A Deer In The COVID-19 Headlights

Gwen Garrison |

We all have a lot on our minds right now, and scammers and criminals have ramped up fraudulent activities through email, text messages, phishing, social media posts and fake websites.

But you can take steps to head the bad guys off at the pass, and you have trustworthy resources to help you.

Be advised.  One of your best resources to stay informed about scams is the Federal Trade Commission’s Corona Virus Page for consumers, http://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice

Coronavirus-related scams abound.  Ignore offers for vaccinations.  There are no approved products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 yet.  Be wary of ads for test kits:  if you need a test, contact your doctor.  Hang up on robocalls –they only add to your anxiety and distress right now.

Be skeptical of requests for donations to help people who are ill or to fund a treatment or cure.  Be wary of ads from unknown companies selling face masks or hand sanitizer or offers to invest in companies claiming to solve pandemic problems.  To avoid clicking on a scammer’s COVID-19 related headline, get your news from reputable sites.

A new scam informs people that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who is showing symptoms, and includes a link to click on.  NEVER click on such a link.  True contact tracer would identify themselves with a government or public health agency, and they will address you by name.

Be wary of emails or messages from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO).  Do not respond or click on any links.  Instead, go to coronavirus.gov to get the latest information from reliable sources.

Do not trust emails or text messages urging you to contact them about your credit cards.  Social Security, or retirement benefits.  Check with your credit card accounts and financial contacts directly using the authorized phone, email, and website information on your statements.

With 1 in 4 Americans unemployed, new scams offer employment opportunities or job guarantees.  Never pay someone to apply for or interview for a job.  Get the name of the prospective employer and check them out directly to follow up on job prospects.

Be deliberate.  Slow down.  Be skeptical.  Scam artists create a sense of urgency to keep you from evaluating the situation.  So, don’t be too quick to click a link or open an attachment –even if it’s in an email from a friend.  If someone claiming to be a bank or company you associate with contacts you and asks for information, hang up and call them directly.  If you receive information on an investment opportunity, ask a trusted financial professional you trust for their opinion.

Be a little anti-social:  Monitor your privacy settings on your social media profiles.  Don’t accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know.  Don’t share risky personal information (like your mother’s last name or your birthdate) on your profile.  Use strong passwords.  Don’t ever access your accounts on public wi-fi or from someone else’s computer.

Be extra vigilant.  Back up personal data, keep your devices secured and updated, and use multi-factor (MF) authentication when you can.  (MF requires a security code sent to a second device.)  Delete programs you don’t need.  Monitor your credit cards, bank accounts and credit reports for activity you don’t recognize.

And, as always, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Be in touch.  Sibyl and Gwen are here to help you.  We are happy to talk with you about any concerns you have.  Call for an appointment today or go to www.lifeplanfinancialadvisors.com to schedule a convenient time to talk about your future.  Feel free to share this information with anyone who will benefit from reading it.

 

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