|4/8/2020 10:11:00 AM|
COVID -19 scammers
As Americans pull together to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, there is one group we do not have to worry about - scammers.
Local police officers and sheriff's deputies say scammers are alive and well. In Cottonwood County, plenty of residents have reported attempted telephone and online scams related to the coronavirus.
There is no single formula with these scams and they don't always mention the virus. Sometimes callers say they are overseas, in dire straits. In other cases, they prey on our generosity and concern for charities.
The goal is always the same - to separate us from our money, or our personal information, such as a social security number, or bank routing number.
According to the FBI, common schemes involve one or more of these elements:
People claiming to be U.S. service members stationed overseas or U.S. citizens quarantined abroad asking residents to send money on behalf of themselves or a loved one battling COVID-19.
People claiming to be in the medical equipment business asking you to send money.
People claiming to be affiliated with charities asking you to send money.
We will add another common one, the relief check scam. Area residents are getting calls from "officials" claiming they need a checking account routing number in order to deposit federal relief checks. These are scams.
The Federal Trade Commission recently offered this advice about relief checks: "There is nothing to sign up for. Anyone calling (or using e-mails) to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security number, PayPal account, or bank information is a scammer, plain and simple."
Lastly, watch out for scammers who target jobless Americans. If an "employer" asks you to receive funds in their personal bank accounts and then "process" or "transfer" funds via wire transfer, Western Union, or some other method, it's a scam.
We can all make a difference. If you are targeted, or know of a scam, report it to authorities.
- Rahn Larson