One thing growing faster than the spread of the COVID-19 virus is the amount of fraud that has taken place around it. Scammers are some of the most avid news followers as they know they can capitalize on any story that is gaining steam among the public. It is little surprise that they have hopped on the bandwagon of COVID-19 to take advantage of those who may not have all of the facts.
The FTC Reports Fraud Numbers Are Through The Roof
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that from January 1st, 2020 to April 15th, 2020 they received a total of 18,235 reports of people being defrauded. The total money lost is reported to be around $13.44 million dollars.
The agency reports that the top complaints from those filing reports revolved around travel and vacations as well as bogus text messages. However, those were not the only categories that were reported on. Check fraud is also a major deal at the moment as COVID-19 continues to sow confusion about what is real and what isn’t.
Stimulus Checks Are Real, But So Is The Amount Of Fraud
The United States government really did pass a law that sent stimulus checks to tens of millions of Americans as a form of relief from the economic impacts that the COVID-19 outbreak has brought upon the country. Each tax-filing adult was entitled to $1,200 plus an extra $500 for every minor child under their care.
Those checks began to roll out not long after April 15th, and the scammers were not far behind them. Some individuals have reported that they received mysterious “checks” in the mail that claim to be their stimulus money. The sender of those “checks” often claims that they need more information in order to allow the money to be deposited. That is a big red flag.
Online scam artists have been pulling much the same trick. They have made the claim that they need someone’s direct deposit information in order to drop the stimulus money into their account. Of course, they are just trying to steal the direct deposit information in this case, but sometimes the victim only realizes this after it is too late.
Protecting Oneself From These Scams
It is best to be hyper-aware of what is going on in the world and what kind of scams are filtering around out there. It is also a good idea whenever possible to check on the validity of any particular claim that an individual or organization is making. You should never turn over personal information to a source that you are not absolutely certain is legitimate.
Go only to official government websites for information about the real stimulus checks, and make sure those official government websites are the only place where you submit any direct deposit banking information (if it is even required by the government).
Understand the rules for eligibility and the guidelines for how much you should expect to receive from the government. Those are things that are easy to uncover, and they may protect you from believing the lies that some scammers try to tell their victims. They want their victim to believe that they are special and that somehow the rules don’t apply to them. They want them to think that they deserve a larger check or that they are entitled to extra benefits. None of those things are true, but the thought of them can be alluring.
Always ask someone that you trust if you feel that you are being scammed in some way. Just getting another set of eyes on what you are dealing with may be enough to steer you away from trouble and towards the right direction. This is all a matter of paying attention to what is happening out there and making the right calls at all times to stay safe and not become the next victim.