Advice to Avoid Coronavirus (COVID-19) Scams and Protect Your Money

Advice to Avoid Coronavirus (COVID-19) Scams and Protect Your Money

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has quickly made a huge impact on our daily lives. We want you to know that one of our top priorities is to keep you informed and provide you with the latest information to help safeguard your personal and financial information. Learn about the common scams and what you can do protect yourself during these uncertain times.

Common Scams

  • Phishing and supply scams. Scammers may impersonate health organizations and businesses to gather personal and financial information or sell fake test kits, supplies, vaccines or cures for COVID-19.
  • Economic stimulus check or loan scams. The government has passed the CARES Act stimulus package to help to ease the economic impact of the virus on individuals and businesses. However, the government or IRS will not ask for your personal or account information, nor will they charge a fee to receive the funds via direct deposit, check or loan. For businesses, visit the SBA’s website to learn about grant fraud, loan fraud and phishing scams at SBA Programs - Scams and Fraud Alerts.
  • Charity scams. Scammers may seek donations for illegitimate or non-existent organizations.
  • Malware. Beware of delivery of malware through “virus-tracking apps” or sensationalized news reports.
  • Provider scams. Scammers may impersonate doctors and hospital staff and contact victim claiming to have treated a relative or friend for COVID-19 and demand payment for treatment.
  • Bank/FDIC scams. Scammers may impersonate bank or FDIC employees and falsely claim that banks are limiting access to deposits or that there are security issues with bank deposits. 
  • Investment scams. Scammers claiming, often presented as “research reports,” that products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19.

10 Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim

  1. Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails, texts, phone calls and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with, and NEVER give your password, account number or PIN to anyone.
  2. Ignore offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure or treatment. If there is a medical breakthrough, it wouldn’t be reported through unsolicited emails or online ads. 
  3. Rely on official sources for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or your state’s health department websites to keep track of the latest developments.
  4. Remember that the safest place for your money is in a bank. When you bank with us, your money is secure. We use state-of-the-art technology and robust security procedures, and your personal account is FDIC insured up to the maximum amount allowed by law. Learn more about FDIC insurance here.
  5. Do some research before making a donation. Be wary of any business, charity or individual requesting COVID-19-related payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card or through the mail. 
  6. Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
  7. Recognize and avoid bogus website links. Cybercriminals embed malicious links to download malware onto devices or route users to bogus websites. Hover over suspicious links to view the actual URL that you are being routed to. Fraudulent links are often disguised by simple changes in the URL. For example: www.ABC-Bank.com vs ABC_Bank.com.
  8. Change your security settings to enable multi-factor authentication for accounts that support it. Multi-factor authentication—or MFA—is a second step to verify who you are, like a text with a code. 
  9. Before you make any investments, remember that there is a high potential for fraud right now. You should be wary of any company claiming the ability to prevent, detect or cure coronavirus. For information on how to avoid investment fraud, visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website.
  10. Help others by reporting COVID-19 scams. Visit the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov to report suspected or confirmed scams. You can also stay up-to-date on the latest scams by visiting the FTC’s coronavirus page at ftc.gov/coronavirus.