Ready For The COVID-19 Scammers?

I typically like to pose a question related to note investing when posting an article. While this article is not directly related to the mortgage industry and notes, it should apply in most every other scenario. It’s slightly longer than my previous articles, because there are so many points to address. Some of the following information should be useful to put into practice anytime, but even more so right now.

As with any other devastating life event, the scammers and thieves come out of the woodwork like vultures. Are you prepared? Are you being aware and diligent? Even though you’re probably scared with the uncertainty of where we are right now, scammers never sleep, and they are taking advantage of those fears surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.

They’re setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, letters, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information. Here are some things you need to be paying extra attention to (not just now, but always):

o Scammers often promise higher-return investments and tout that they say are safe, especially from the downturns in the market due to the coronavirus and the response to it. You need to be especially careful about these claims and about the folks that make them. Most all investments carry the risk of loss. Any promises of gains without the potential for loss are empty. With the recent fall in markets over the past month, scammers are out in force, looking for those who are uninformed. Some may even be impersonating the FDIC and promising “no risk” investments. And if someone approaches you about an investment that seems too good to be true, then it usually is. There are no “get rich quick” investments that don’t involve substantial risk. Scammers are looking to take advantage of people during a desperate time like this when millions are out of work.

o The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. Be on guard against “safe” or “guaranteed” investments

o Government agencies are not going to call you! (Unless of course, you called them first) The government will not call you to ask for personal information such as your bank account number, credit card number, Medicare number, VA information or Social Security Numbers. Scammers can spoof phone numbers to make it look as if the government agency is calling you. Shoot, they can spoof your own phone number to make it look like you are calling yourself!

o Never pay upfront fees to get money from the government. There is never a fee. The financial relief checks from the federal government are not even available yet. Anyone claiming they can get you money faster or for a fee, is a scammer. You may get emails looking legitimate too. Fraudulent websites come in a variety of types. Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date. Scammers will send you an email requesting you to download a file or click on a link for information on how to access their network.

o If you ever get a letter stating your mortgage loan was sold, verify it before mailing the payment. Call your original servicer to check. Don’t overlook the appearance of legitimacy. And don’t rely on the phone numbers listed on the letters, as it will usually lead back to the scammer.

o Check your credit reports to make sure all three reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Transunion) are not adding unverified information to your reports. You can also freeze your reports easily and free for all three reporting agencies and unfreeze when needed.

o The internet, just like the scammers, doesn’t sleep! Stay safe out there friends and be diligent! IRS.GOV, FTC.GOV, SEC.GOV, SSA.GOV, VA.GOV – The official sites…

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