March 30, 2020

We are all working through this sensitive time with the Coronavirus. Unfortunately, when natural disasters or pandemics occur, scams increase. Cybercriminals see this as an opportunity to profit, preying on our need to help others and protect ourselves. Please take caution, particularly during this difficult and confusing time, and follow these guidelines to protect yourselves and your accounts. 

Recent Coronavirus scams

Several recent scams related to the Coronavirus have been identified. These include:

  • False news – Cybercriminals have impersonated the World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Controls (CDC), and even your local schools in an attempt to get you to click on a link in an email that allows them to steal your personal information from your computer.
  • Fake charities – A common scam that increases when a crisis occurs is the fake charity asking for donations for a loved one or, as seen recently, vaccines for the children of China. 
  • Vaccination hoaxes – False information has begun circulating online, through emails and social media promising a cure for the Coronavirus. 
  • NEW: IRS Stimulus Check Scam  – The IRS is not calling consumers about stimulus checks. If you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. It's a scam!  Read more about the IRS stimulus check scam.

Protect yourself

These are just a few of the hoaxes circulating right now. Please take extra precautions including:

  • Don’t click on links – if you receive emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO or other experts with information about the virus, don’t click on links; those links could download viruses onto your computer or device. Instead, open a web browser and visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov and the WHO’s website at www.who.int to get information.
  • Ignore offers for vaccinations – according to the FTC and the FDA, there aren’t currently any vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – online or in stores.
  • Caution when donating to charities – be sure you know who you are donating to. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, by wiring money, or by bitcoin, it’s likely a scam. Read more about charity scams.
  • Additionally, you should never provide account numbers, Social Security numbers or any personal information to strangers. If you are not sure who is contacting you, don’t give out your information.

If you suspect fraud

The Consumer Protection Bureau recommends you file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. If you have sent money to a charity you suspect might be fraudulent, it’s a good idea to also contact your local police department. If you feel your 1st United account information has been compromised, please contact us immediately at (800) 649-0193 so that we may assist you.

With a little due diligence and taking extra steps to verify information, you will protect yourselves during this trying time. As always, give us a call if you have any questions.