Avoiding COVID Scams
Earlier this week, our neighboring Village, Northwest Neighbors, hosted a talk with Suzanne McGovern, Senior Advisor, with the Office of Investor Education and Advocacy at U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Suzanne raised awareness of common Covid-19 scams and provided helpful tips to keep you safe. Here are some highlights of Suzanne’s presentation. We encourage you to watch the recording of her talk to learn more.
Fraudulent Stock Promotions – Fraudsters falsely promote companies that can cure Covid or offer Covid-related support. These are typically penny stocks that claim to “guarantee” high stock prices and encourage victims to “buy now”.
How to check legitimacy – Visit SEC’s website to confirm a company has filed with them. You can also verify that a broker is licensed and registered at investor.gov. If the company and/or broker are not listed, the offer is likely too good to be true.
Charitable Scams – Fraudsters exploit people’s desire to help during a crisis. Sometimes fraudsters claim to be part of a trusted charity or organization that you belong to. This can be particularly confusing as many charities and organizations have had to come up with creative ways to raise funds during the pandemic.
How to check legitimacy – Visit the IRS website to search for the tax-exempt organization. If you are already a part of a trusted organization, contact the organization directly to double check.
Phishing Scams – Phishing scams are pervasive. Some examples of Covid phishing scams include, fake delivery people requesting Social Security Numbers in order to “deliver” stimulus checks to the person, and offers to help people get the Covid-19 vaccine early for a fee.
How to check legitimacy – Unsolicited calls and emails from government and private organizations requesting your personal information like Social Security Numbers or your bank account information are a red flag. If you are not sure, stop communication and contact the organization to see if it’s legitimate. To learn more about Phishing Scams and other online scams, visit Northwest Neighbors Village’s Tech Corner.
The bottom line is beware of “get rich quick” and “too good to be true” opportunities, and steer clear from requests to purchase gift cards or “send money to win” schemes.