Q: I’ve been receiving a number of emails from people I don’t know with links to information on COVID-19. I’m not clicking on any of them, but I’m wondering if others are receiving these as well?
A: You’re certainly not the only once receiving these emails. And you’re correct, you should never click on a link in these, or any email for that matter, without first verifying who sent it. Here’s what you need to know about other similar scams and how to protect your information.
Scammers, fraudsters and other criminals are taking advantage of rapidly changing data and facts associated with COVID-19, both in the workplace and in our homes. Government agencies, corporations and news outlets continue to warn individuals to be mindful of increased fraudulent activities during these uncertain times.
These scams, which can be sent via email, text message and social media claim to provide COVID-19 updates, sell products, ask for charitable donations or reference government aid packages. These messages appear to be legitimate in nature but seek to fraudulently obtain personal information, financial gain, and create panic. Use these tips to identify and avoid scams:
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts claiming to have inside information on the virus. There are currently no vaccines, potions, lozenges or other prescriptions available online or in-store to treat or cure COVID-19.
- Do your homework prior to donating to charities or crowdfunding sites. Confirm the validity of the organization as fraudsters are now advertising fake charities. Do not let anyone rush you into a donation, particularly those who ask for cash, gift cards or wiring of funds.
- Do not click on links or open attachments from sources you do not know. Cybercriminals are using the COVID-19 headline as a tactic to spread viruses and steal information. Do not provide personal information, payment information or sensitive workplace information via suspicious email addresses.
- Be suspicious of urgent demands and emergency requests. The health and safety of you and your family is the top priority. Do not fall for scammers threatening fees or fines, canceled deliveries and health concerns in exchange for financial gain.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Many individuals have begun to receive robocalls and social media requests for social security numbers, banking information and gift cards. Scammers promise high paying work from home opportunities, free sanitation and cleaning, as well as COVID-19 protection in exchange for payment and sensitive information.
- Be mindful of scammers using government aid packages for criminal gain. Lawmakers have announced plans to send Americans checks to assist with the financial burden of the virus, with details still in discussion. The government will not request payment, nor will anyone reach out requesting personally sensitive health or financial information in exchange for financial support.
- Obtain your news from a trusted source. Be mindful of text message scams, social media polls and fraudulent email accounts sharing false information to create panic. Before acting on information, review its source and check a trusted news outlet to confirm its validity.
When in doubt, ask a coworker, family member or friend for their opinion. Two sets of eyes are better than one. If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam, call your local police at their non-emergency number and consider reporting to the FBI’s IC3 Internet Crime Database.
If you have any questions or concerns during this, please do not hesitate to reach out. We continue to wish everyone good health as we all work to get through this challenging time.
Jeremy R. Gussick is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional affiliated with LPL Financial, the nation’s largest independent broker-dealer.* Jeremy specializes in the financial planning and retirement income needs of the LGBT community and was recently named a 2019 FIVE STAR Wealth Manager as mentioned in Philadelphia Magazine.** He is active with several LGBT organizations in the Philadelphia region, including DVLF (Delaware Valley Legacy Fund) and the Independence Business Alliance (IBA), the Philadelphia Region’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce. OutMoney appears monthly. If you have a question for Jeremy, you can contact him via email at [email protected]
Jeremy R. Gussick is a Registered Representative with, and securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC.
This article was prepared with the assistance of DST Systems Inc. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This communication is not intended to be tax advice and should not be treated as such. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor. Please consult me if you have any questions. To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent investment advisor, please note that LPL Financial LLC is not an affiliate of and makes no representation with respect to such entity.
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*As reported by Financial Planning magazine, June 1996-2019, based on total revenues.
**Award based on 10 objective criteria associated with providing quality services to clients such as credentials, experience, and assets under management among other factors. Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of 2019 Five Star Wealth Managers.