Coronavirus (COVID-19) is bringing out the best – and worst – in people. For every story of Italians serenading their neighbors, there’s another of a scammer trying to steal people’s money. According to a report from Comparitech, over 3.8 million Americans were victims of fraud and scams. in 2019. Both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Experian are offering advice on how to keep your money safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Avoiding Coronavirus Scams
Scams are a normal part of life, unfortunately. And that is certainly the case during the current COVID-19 outbreak. Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are a few FTC tips:
- Don’t Click Links from Sources You Don’t Trust – Scammers frequently steal information by posing as reputable links. Before you click anything, check the actual link you are clicking. Don’t recognize it? Does it appear different than what it’s claiming to be? Don’t click it.
- Ignore Vaccine Emails – There are currently no known vaccines for COVID-19. If you receive anything claiming to have information on a “cure,” avoid it.
- Do Your Homework – Before donating to any charity, GoFundMe, or anything else, always do your research to ensure it is a worthy – and real – charity.
- Be wary of emails from the CDC or WHO
- Research anyone selling medical supplies or any other goods online to see if they are a legitimate business.
Protect Your Credit
Like the FTC, Experian is also offering advice for consumers. The credit-monitoring bureau recommends everyone be proactive when it comes to their credit during this difficult time.
Experian recommends all Americans do the following:
- Contact their creditors if they are concerned about being able to make their monthly payments. For a comprehensive list of credit card issuer contact numbers, visit our dedicated Coronavirus Credit Card Relief Contact Info page.
- If possible, make at least their minimum payments on time every month.
- Make sure their credit reports are secure. This includes obtaining free copies of their credit reports to check for fraud and accuracy.
Should you suspect fraud, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Contact your credit card issuers to report the fraud.
- Update your passwords
- Update recurring payments
- Freeze your credit report
Freezing your credit is the best thing to do should you suspect fraud. This action restricts access to your credit report, preventing thieves from accessing your credit score information and opening accounts in your name. Freezing and unfreezing your credit doesn’t add any additional cost, making it a safe – and affordable – way to immediately halt further fraud.
Related Article: Can You Get Coronavirus from Cash and Credit Cards?
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