Protecting yourself from coronavirus scams
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has captured headlines lately, and has disrupted numerous routines and businesses. Now, scammers may try to take advantage of fears surrounding the virus as well. Just like in other situations, there are steps you can take to protect your health, your technology and your finances from people who might try to exploit the uncertainty surrounding this disease.
Working from home? Protect your devices.
A lot of people will be logging on remotely in the coming weeks. Now is the time to make sure your computer and mobile phone’s software are up-to-date. Check security software, your operating system, computer programs and apps for any updates that need to be installed. For help, call a representative from your company’s IT department, your internet provider or visit a tech service. There are also products available that scan your device for viruses and recommend security patches.
Avoid fake cures and treatments.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, there are currently no vaccines, pills or other prescription or over-the-counter products available online or in stores to treat or prevent the coronavirus disease. Beware anyone offering to give you medical advice or sell you a treatment—these may be not only unproven and useless, but also dangerous. Working from home? Protect your devices.
Con artists will often entice you with an amazing opportunity that requires you to enter sensitive information to redeem it. Keep your credit card number, social security number and other private details safe by avoiding suspicious emails, links and pop-up windows. If something seems too good to pass up, do some research online to make sure the seller and offer is legitimate. If you have questions about your health, consult your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.
Watch out for online scams.
There have been several email phishing campaigns to try to capitalize on people’s confusion about the virus. Attackers may pose as authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) in emails, offering information about the virus in order to trick victims into downloading malicious software or handing over their login credentials. Here are some things you can do to avoid being a victim of these types of scams:
- Check the URL of the website you’re using to make sure it’s secure. If it starts with “https” (rather than “http”), it’s using a secure connection.
- Be skeptical of URLs and emails with multiple misspelled words or use the wrong domain in their name (CDC.com, for instance, instead of CDC.gov.)
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. When in doubt, copy and paste URLs into your browser rather than clicking on them directly.
- Never download anything from an unfamiliar site—it could download viruses or malicious files to your computer or device.
Research charities and crowdfunding sites before you make a donation to coronavirus research or aid. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you shouldn’t let anyone rush you into making a decision or pressure you into giving money. And if someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t give it to them.
Be wary of phony job offers.
With many people being forced to take time off work or becoming unemployed during the coronavirus outbreak, scammers are creating fake job postings to collect personal information such as your name, address and Social Security number, as well as personal financial account information. They are also trying to trick job seekers into becoming money mules through money laundering schemes that appear on the surface to be work-at-home job offers. If you receive a job solicitation via email that sounds too good to be true, beware. And if you get a phone call that requests that you share any personal or medical information, hang up.
Stay informed and take action when necessary.
The FTC has put together a site to keep you informed of the latest information on avoiding coronavirus fraud and give you additional information to help you avoid scams. You can also visit the official CDC site for situation updates, recommendations on how to prevent illness and what to do if you get sick.
If you suspect you’ve become a victim of a scam, contact your bank or credit card company right away. Commerce Bank customers are encouraged to take advantage of security features to help prevent fraud, including Online Banking account and card alerts, cardholder security tools and Commerce’s ID Theft Services. You can contact a member of our Security Team, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 866-203-1396. They are specialists in fraud detection and mitigation and can provide insight and assistance if you run into a situation that you think might be a scam.
We’re here for you, in every situation.
Commerce Bank believes that every financial situation is unique and deserving of a personal response. We understand that the current situation may cause financial uncertainty and can be very difficult for many Americans. For more than 150 years, our priority has been to do what’s right for our customers. We remain committed to that guiding principle.
If you are having financial difficulties due to job loss, reduced hours or other impact from the coronavirus, we’re here for you. If you are a Commerce Bank customer facing financial hardship due to the impact of the coronavirus, please call us at 833-518-3458 to discuss your current accounts.
Please know Commerce is taking the coronavirus matter very seriously and will continue to take appropriate measures as the situation warrants to help you protect your health and safety and to minimize any disruption to our day-to-day operations. We will continue to follow the recommendations from the CDC as the situation warrants. For more details on the preparations we are taking, visit commercebank.com/coronavirus.