Fraudsters are quick to take advantage of a crisis and it’s no surprise they’ve already come up with creative new ways to steal from you.
Here are the COVID-19 scams we know about right now – plus some tips for protecting yourself from these and other scams.
We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as we learn about new ones. And please pass this information on to your friends and loved ones.
And remember: Summit will never ask you for confidential information, like full Social Security number, full bank account number, debit or credit card numbers, CVV or PIN in an email or via a website, online chat or from an unsolicited phone call. We may ask you this information if you call us to confirm your identity. If you receive a suspicious request for confidential information, it's not from Summit.
The Latest Covid-19 Scams
- Unexpected unemployment payments. Scammers use stolen personal information to apply for unemployment benefits. Once the payment appears in your account, they may call, email or text you impersonating the state unemployment agency and request you send the money back to them. Don't spend or withdraw the unexpected funds and contact your financial institution.
- Bogus contact tracing. Legitimate public health agencies are contacting individuals who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. Fraudsters are impersonating contact tracers through text, email and social media by sending links for you to click on that will install malware to steal your account passwords - and through robocalls that request you verify your identity by sharing personal information. Legitimate tracers will not request Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers, financial information or government identification numbers.
- Facebook posts promising special grants to help pay medical bills. These claim to be from a government agency that will help you qualify for a grant to pay your medical bills. A link in the post will take you to what appears to be a government agency where you’ll be asked to provide your Social Security number to verify your identity in order to get your grant.
- Phone calls. We currently know of a couple different versions of these calls:
- Caller says you’ve qualified for a special stimulus payment; you just have to pay a small processing fee to get it.
- Caller says they’re from Summit Credit Union – or another financial institution – and just needs your account information so they can deposit your stimulus payment into your account.
- Anyone calling you with a “you must act now” is almost always fraudulent. And, just because they know some things about you does not make it legitimate. As mentioned above, the government is not going to call you asking you to sign up for stimulus, the IRS is not going to call you wanting your Social Security number. The IRS already has a lot of your personal information. They don’t need you to provide it.
- Investment scams. These are people preying on the fact that stock market downward trends make people nervous. If an investment option is promising you “new guarantees” it is likely fraudsters.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF now — and always:
- Know that if it sounds too good to be true, it might be.
- Never provide personal information. No legitimate organization will call or email you to confirm your account or personal information – and this includes government agencies.
- Hang up and call us yourself. Many times the caller will try to pressure you or scare you into sharing information. Hang up the phone and call your financial institution to verify (or report) the suspicious activity.
- Check out anyone that claims to be from a government agency. You can find the official list of U.S. federal grant-making agencies at www.grants.gov.
- Know you’ll never need to pay a fee for a government grant. Be suspicious of any so-called government agency requesting a processing fee.
- Understand government agencies will never contact you through a social media outlet, such as Facebook.
- Don’t use a provided link. Know the company or government agency is legit but you’re not sure the email is? Contact the company/agency directly using a phone number or website you know is real.
- Use good passwords and PINs—and change them regularly. Don’t use names and numbers that are easy to guess (birth date, house number, sequence, etc.) And don’t use one password for everything.
- Protect your credentials. Don’t share your login information and don’t give information out over the phone or email unless you initiated the call or transaction. Don’t keep your PIN in your wallet!
- Keep an eye on your accounts. Don’t wait for a monthly statement, use online banking.
- Sign up for transaction alerts. These are a quick and easy way to know if there’s suspicious activity.
If your personal information has been compromised, you should contact your financial institution immediately. For Summit members, call 800-236-5560. If you have questions, check out our mobile security FAQs.
The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) is also reminding consumers to be wary of con artists in this financial market. Read their press release to learn more about what to watch out for.