It’s said that nothing is for certain except for death and taxes. Unfortunately, you can also bet there will inevitably be some folks who take advantage of others during difficult times.
Whenever the state of the world is in chaos and disarray, scammers and fraudsters see an opportunity to profit at the expense of the vulnerable.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that during the waning days of the pandemic, scam artists are taking advantage of seniors in the form of robocalls, text messages, and spam emails promoting phony COVID-19 cures and fake stimulus payments, attempting to steal your money as well as your personal information. The good news is you do not have to become one of their victims.
Below, we have highlighted some of the major COVID-related scams targeting older Americans so you can be aware of them and protect yourself and your family.
Phony Vaccines and Fake Cures
Since the pandemic began, scammers have been promoting fake cures and phony remedies, something that isn’t likely to stop. Unfortunately, some consumers still have reservations about the vaccines, which make them a target for phony products, which claim to prevent or cure Coronavirus. If you have any questions about the actual vaccines, click here for more information.
Scammers are trafficking products unapproved by the US Food and Drug Administration, which claim to cure Coronavirus, such as teas, essential oils, cannabinol, intravenous therapies, and other remedies which will not cure the virus, and in some cases might be harmful to your health.
According to the FBI, some scammers are advertising fake antibody tests in the hopes of collecting your personal information.
Unfortunately, scammers are also duping unsuspecting victims with fake stimulus checks. Look out for calls, texts or emails, which claim to be from government agencies instructing you to click on a link, pay a fee, or “confirm” personal information like your Social Security number to secure your stimulus check. Ignore any ads on Facebook or other platforms promising you Covid relief with the click of a button. Scammers use such convincing methods as a ploy to steal your personal information and your money.
Criminals are also impersonating banks and lenders, offering various forms of debt relief, including promises to get you out of credit card debt or or student loan forgiveness.
Phishing and Malware
Unfortunately, the Coronavirus is not the only virus we need to worry about. Since the pandemic began, there has been a sharp increase in phishing scams, according to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Unsavory individuals trick their unsuspecting victims into clicking a link or providing information, which enables the scammer to infect the user’s computer with a virus or malware. The scammer can then take control of the user’s computer or laptop and access the user’s personal information.
The bottom line is: Do not click any link that looks unusual.
Some scammers are even impersonating contact tracers, warning you that you’ve been exposed to the virus. These scam texts and emails usually feature a link that downloads malware to your device after you click it. Note, that messages from actual contact tracers working for public health agencies will never include a link or ask you for money or personal data.
We are hopefully in the final stages of this awful pandemic. Nonetheless, we must remain vigilant and be wary of scammers and fraudsters taking advantage of the fear, instability, and economic woes, brought about by the Coronavirus.
Sadly, the elderly are often prime targets of these scams, but you can keep your loved one’s safe by sharing this information with them.