Financial scams are not a new thing for anyone. Several kinds of financial scams have been happening in society for a very long time. Online financial scams have been prominent amongst other different kinds of scams. These cases have only seen a rise at an unrestrained rate. The number of cases of financial scams has recorded an upsurge during this pandemic as more people are seeking financing assistance online. Many people have lost their hard-earned money by getting caught in this loop of financial scams.
Many people have been filing for withdrawal of their Provident Fund (PF), breaking their Fixed Deposits (FD), applying for fast loans online or instant payday loans. The scammers call or send emails pretending to be a response to your enquiry, and then falsely whip away all your money that’s available in your bank account. It is really hard to differentiate between who is real and who is fake. You should have the knowledge of how to detect the warning signs to avoid falling for these fraudulent crimes.
Here’s how to spot the most common COVID-19 scams
- Stimulus checks
The fraudsters are highly interested in government refunds, especially in this pandemic, as many government policies about aiding the needy and unemployed have been launched. Most of the cases have been received in which the scammers have catfished a person with respect to their enquiry about some government refunds. Fraudsters impersonate members of the Government agency over the phone call, claiming that they need personal details to verify your identity or get your stimulus check to access your account faster. They may also ask for an advanced amount as a fee or charge for their services.
Whenever you get a call that claims that you have a refund waiting from some charge you have incurred or that financial aid by the government is being provided to you, just hang up the phone right there. No government agency will call you to interrogate about your personal details, especially that of credit or debit card.
- Unemployment benefits
There have been programs launched by the central and several state governments in order to provide employment opportunities to people. To access these jobs many individuals are filling up forms for different positions. So, another common scam is being offered help when applying for such jobs. The scammers will state to be a member of the government agency and collect all your important personal and financial information. They will also sometimes generate links and ask you to click on those to fill up some form related to job vacancies. Never click on those links as they are scams. No one is going to call to offer you help, hence don’t fall for this scam. Scammers also use robocalls sometimes, so be aware of that too.
- Social security benefits
The scams related to social security benefits provided by the government have been around for a long time, though they have evolved since the beginning of the pandemic. Scammers may claim that your social security benefit related to old age pension, retirement pension or any other benefit has been halted during the ongoing pandemic and to continue with those benefits you need to share some personal and financial details or wire money to maintain your benefits intact throughout the pandemic. Remember, if there is any change in the issue of your benefit fund, the official government agency will contact you personally via call or text.
How to protect yourself
One basic thing that all the scammers do is that they will use urgent or threatening language and ask you to immediately take the course of action or that you would lose the money. They will ask you to provide personal information or download files or to click on certain links. By following these below-listed tips you can protect yourself from COVID-19 financial scams, and will always be one step ahead of the scammers.
- Firstly, trust your instincts and hang up the phone if you believe that you are on the phone with a scammer. Even if your instinct goes wrong, remember you can get in contact with the legit government agencies anytime in order to sort any lingering issue.
- Always do a good research prior to making a call to any agency about financial information or enquiry. Never contact the number the scammers texted or mailed you. If the other party claims to be a government official, your utility company, or another agency, tell them you will contact them directly.
- Remember that no government agency will ever contact you over the phone or through email. They will send you notices via the mail.
- If you have applied for some instant payday loans, and any agency claims to provide you with the mentioned by gathering some crucial information, you should pay due attention to whether the agency is a RBI registered Non-bank financial institution (NBFC).
- Any representative of the government will never threaten legal actions if you do not immediately pay what they are asking for. They will only provide you with the information regarding any change in policy for your social security benefit.
- A legitimate agency will never acquire payments through gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or wire transfers.
So, this was all about the most common COVID-19 financial scams that can entrap you, accompanied by some simple tips and tricks that you can follow to get away from them. Always remember that even if you get catfished by someone, you should immediately report the same to the concerned authorities. In this way, you can get the scammers behind the bars and save several other people’s hard-earned money too.