Fraudsters are capitalizing on the panic surrounding COVID-19 to scam people, but good sense can stop them cold.
While America adjusts to a new daily routine in an age of COVID-19, fraudsters seek new ways to separate you from your money.
Some of the latest fraud scams come via cellphone texts. They appear innocuous – if not inviting. An example is the promise of an expensive cellphone “to help you spend time at home” due to the outbreak. The message is personalized, calling you by name, and concluding with a link. As usual, the offer is too good to be true, and responding can put you at risk.
“Fraudsters prey on chaos, fear and uncertainty – we would expect there to be an increasing level of fraud attempts during the COVID-19 event,” said Jon Kucharski, Fraud Strategy Manager at Regions.
Thankfully, fraud prevention is a 24/7 focus for Regions Bank.
These five tips from our security team can help protect you from scams:
1. Enroll in your bank’s or credit card company’s online and mobile applications to monitor your account activity frequently, looking for suspicious activity.
2. Be skeptical, and use caution when reviewing all forms of communication (phone, text and email). Clicking links may expose you to viruses or other malicious malware.
3. While online, verify the legitimacy of websites you visit.
- Turn on browser tools, which can help identify fraudulent websites.
- Ensure the websites are secure and encrypted with HTTPS.
- Look for links that are broken or take you away from the original website.
- Shop through websites you know and trust.
4. Avoid any communication with anyone asking for money for COVID-19 research, investments in vaccines, or support for individuals you do not know personally via gift cards or pre-paid money cards.
5. Slow down, verify, and verify again the legitimacy of financial transactions before approving. Look for changes to account numbers, phone numbers, email addresses or other identifying information.
Don White, Head of Corporate Security at Regions, said being cautious is always Rule Number One. That applies even more now.
“It’s disappointing, but unfortunately, it’s not surprising that scam artists would try to prey on people’s fears of coronavirus,” White said. “Even though this is an unusual time, remember, the same security precautions you should take at all times still apply here. Don’t click on links in texts or emails that you didn’t sign up for. Don’t give your personal or financial information out to someone who’s soliciting you over the phone, in your email, or any other way trying to capitalize on fear.”
Jim Phillips, Compliance Intelligence Officer at Regions, also warned that fraudsters will try to take advantage of your generosity.
“If you’re asked to donate to help people affected by the virus, only donate to organizations that you know and trust – and contact them at their publicly identifiable phone numbers to arrange your gift,” Phillips said. “Be vigilant. And if you feel you’ve fallen victim to a scam, let your bank, your credit card company, and the authorities know.”
Knowledge and awareness are powerful defenses against cybercrime. For more fraud prevention tips and information, visit Regions’ Fraud Prevention Resources.