Fraud Advisory: Scammers Exploiting COVID-19 Crisis

March 18, 2020
by Team SESLOC

SESLOC is committed to safeguarding the physical and financial health of our members, staff and communities. During this vulnerable time, scammers and cyber criminals may try to take advantage of your concerns related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They may offer you fake products, medical advice, create fake charities, or compel you to click a fraudulent link to gain access to your device. Here are four common scams identified by authorities:

Be Aware:

  1. Imposter Scams – Bad actors attempt to solicit donations, steal personal information, or distribute malware by impersonating government agencies and international organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), respectively.
  2. Contact Tracer Scams — Contact tracing is a critical public health tool for tracking COVID cases and communicating to those who may have had contact so they can take proper precautions. Scammers posing as contact tracers use phone, text, and email to trick concerned community members into divulging information like their Social Security Number, financial, or health insurance information. Remember — legitimate contact tracers will ONLY ask you about your symptoms and those who you have been in contact with.
  3. Investment Scams – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) urged investors to be wary of COVID-19-related investment scams, such as promotions that falsely claim that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure Coronavirus.
  4. Product Scams – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued public statements and warning letters to companies selling unapproved or mis-branded products that make false health claims pertaining to COVID-19.  Additionally, Federal Regulators have received reports regarding fraudulent marketing of COVID-19-related supplies, such as certain face masks.

Protect yourself:

  • Stay up-to-date on Coronavirus scams and get tips from the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Be cautious about requests for personal information. Financial or government institution will never request personal information (like usernames, passwords, PINs, or credit or debit card numbers) via text message or email.
  • Do not open any links or attachments from unknown sources.
  • Check email links by hovering over them to display the address.
  • Verify the source of the email or phone call.
  • Take a moment to research any companies seeking your attention that you are not already doing business with.
  • Learn about more about the signs of a scam email with this interactive phishing quiz by Google.
  • Learn about Caller ID Spoofing.
  • Learn about SMiSHing attacks.

As a reminder, SESLOC will never call, email or text you requesting personal or confidential information. If you suspect suspicious activity, please hang up and and call us immediately at (805) 543-1816 to report the incident.

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