The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning of a phishing scheme where the con artists are pretending to be government officials and in this case, the FTC.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, fraudsters aren’t slowing down. Because of COVID-19, unemployment rates are high and many people’s cash flows are low.
Scammers see this as their prime season for working against us. Consumer’s emotions are already running high, so it may be easier to trick you into sharing your personal or financial information.
How the scam worksThis scam email says you’ll get money from a COVID-19 “Global Empowerment Fund.”
All you need to do, it says, is respond with your bank account information and they’ll transfer the funds. But that’s a scam.
Of course, there is no money and there is no fund. And it is not from the FTC. If you get a message like this, do not respond. Instead, report it to the real FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Please note: The FTC will never contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media to ask for your financial information, including your Social Security number. Anyone who does is a scammer, phishing for your information.
Tips to spot and avoid a phishing scam
- Watch for phone fraud. Scammers claim to be calling in an official capacity as a government agent. They may sound friendly and courteous or aggressive and threatening. They may even have a caller ID to match their claims. Caller IDs can be easily spoofed. Never feel pressured to act.
- When in doubt, hang up the phone and call the official source to verify unexpected or unusual claims.
- You can also reduce the number of unsolicited calls you receive by registering your phone number with the National Do-Not-Call registry at 1-888-382-1222 or Donotcall.gov.
- Generally it is in the mail. If the government needs to reach you, they will send you official documentation in the mail.
- Be wary of unexpected calls and emails. Never confirm or give out your personal information to someone that contacts you unsolicited. Government agencies DON’T make unsolicited calls.
- Our personal information is just that — personal! Do not give out your banking and credit card information, your birthdate, Social Security or Insurance number, or any other personal, sensitive information to someone that contacts you and says they are with a government agency.
- Your personal information is like money — protect it from scammers looking to steal your identity or your benefits.
- Scammers preferred methods of payment. The government will never ask you to wire money or send them a gift card or pre-paid debit card.
For more information
If you’re getting an economic stimulus payment, that money will come from the Internal Revenue Service.
If you think you gave your financial information to a scammer, go to IdentityTheft.gov for steps you can take to protect yourself. Fight back by reporting government imposter scams; report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker.
Better Business Bureau serving Canton Region and Greater West Virginia offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices. Visit bbb.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips and more.
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