It’s no secret that fear causes people to make rash decisions. That’s why people buy out all the toilet paper on the shelves when a pandemic is announced. Scam artists know this and use times of fear to manipulate others into giving them money or personal information, in fact, scamming is so prevalent during these times that the Federal Trade Commission created a with some of the most common scams. It’s times like these that you need to be extra vigilant about who you’re giving information to and where your hard-earned money is going. Note that seniors are particularly vulnerable, please talk to your elderly family members about these scams and how to avoid them.
Fake Emails, Texts, and Phishing Scams
Phishing is a huge problem and is a favored method by many scammers. According to Dictionary.com is defined as “trying to obtain financial or other confidential information from Internet users, typically by sending an email that looks as if it is from a legitimate organization, usually a financial institution, but contains a link to a fake website that replicates the real one”. This can happen with any and all financial institutions, for example, you may get an email from someone claiming to be Peninsula Credit Union that requests for you to click a link or call a number and reveal personal information. In some cases, clicking the link alone is enough for the hacker to infiltrate your computer and find your personal information.
So, how do you avoid phishing scams?
Know what information you need to guard. Scammers are looking for things like account numbers, social security numbers, login IDs, and passwords. If someone asks you for any of this information, be certain that they are a trusted source.
Do not provide personal information to unknown sources. If you cannot verify the identity of who is calling you, texting you, or the source of the email, do not provide information.
PCU Tip: To verify that it is Peninsula Credit Union calling you about your account, you can always ask for the name of the person you are speaking to, hang up, call our contact center (1.800.426.1601) and asked to be routed back to that employee.
In much the same way as phishing, scammers use to target individuals for private information. These calls could be set up to come from many sources that seem reputable on the surface, places like the Social Security Administration, Medicare, or even your financial institution. Robocalls may be trying to steal PIN numbers, account information, or trick you into buying gift cards.
So, how do you avoid Robocall scams?
Hang up immediately, do not push any buttons or speak. As a rule of thumb, if someone needs to gather personal information, they will not use a robot to do it.
PCU Tip: We’ll never ask for your personal information with a robocall. When in doubt, call our contact center (1.800.426.1601) to see if need anything from you.
Fake Cures & Testing Kits
Scammers and businesses prey on people’s fear by trying to sell products or services that claim to prevent or treat the coronavirus. These can be anything from oils and teas to therapeutic sessions. While government agencies are trying to crack down on these scams, some do manage to slip through the cracks.
So, how do you avoid fake cures and testing scams?
The times are uncertain and many people are more than willing to lend a helping hand. Be careful when being solicited for donations to charities that claim to help those affected by the virus or doing research. There are reputable organizations that do need your help and contributions, but there are also scammers who are trying to pull on your heartstrings and steal your money.
So, how do you avoid charity scams?
Do your research. If the charity that is contacting you is one you’ve never heard of before, tell them that you’d like to look into them a little more before making a financial contribution. If someone is claiming to be a well-known charity, consider making the donation directly through their website rather than over the phone, this way you can be sure your contribution is going directly to them and not a scammer.