Beware of Scammers Amid the Pandemic | WYPR

Beware of Scammers Amid the Pandemic

Aug 17, 2020

One of the greatest threats to an individual’s financial security these days is getting scammed. During pandemic where so many people are struggling, it’s especially disheartening that there are so many scammers out there trying to steal people’s personally identifiable information and money. Catherine Collinson, president of nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, is here today to talk about the latest scams.

Catherine, what are some scams people should be aware of?

Catherine Collinson:

It’s awful but true. Scammers are exploiting the pandemic to take advantage of individuals and families.

A particularly despicable scam relates to Contact Tracers. As a reminder, legitimate contact tracers play an important role in helping reduce the spread of coronavirus. Their job is to contact individuals to discuss results of a coronavirus test they recently took or notify them that someone they’ve been in contact with has tested positive, so they can take precautionary measures. Contact Tracers may ask name and address, health information, and the names of places and people they have visited—but they will never request financial information.

Beware. There are scammers out there who are posing as contact tracers and requesting payment, asking for your Social Security number or financial information, asking you to share your immigration status. and or sending malicious links in emails or texts for to click on. Please be on the lookout and remember that legitimate contact tracers will not ask this of you.

Other pandemic-related scams include the promise of fake vaccines or unproven treatments for COVID-19.

Al Waller:

It seems like older adults are more susceptible to scams, I recently heard about a Medicare scam in which scammers call and promise “COVID care kits” and ask for personally identifiable information, such as your Social Security or your Medicare numbers.

Catherine Collinson:

Older adults, especially those who live alone, are often easy targets for scammers to take advantage of. This is an area where families can really help out—by having conversations to raise awareness among family members. If your parents are getting older, help them be on the lookout and implement safeguards. Don’t forget -- people of all ages can be a victim, so please be careful.

Al Waller:

One of the most important ways to protect yourself from scammers is to avoid sharing personally identifiable information or making payments without verifying an organization is legitimate. What are some other ways to protect yourself?

Catherine Collinson:

New scams are popping up all the time, so it’s also important to stay abreast of what’s out there. The Federal Trade Commission’s website provides scam alerts, details about the latest scams, how to recognize them, and how to avoid them.

Al Waller:

Thanks, as always, for sharing these insights and information. I hope everyone is staying safe at home. That’s all we have time for here on ClearPath – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth on WYPR, your NPR news station.