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Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland FCU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight!
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COVID-19 Scams: The Most Vulnerable Generation

05/27/2020
Ashleigh, K-Staff

Long a target of identity thieves and fraudsters, senior generations are becoming victims of COVID-19 related scams at an alarming rate.
Seniors are vulnerable to scams and identity theft for a number of reasons: 
  • They tend to be polite and trusting, especially over the telephone. 
  • These generations generally have good credit.
  • They also have more financial resources than younger generations.
  • And seniors are one of the fastest growing segments of social media users. 
The social changes and resulting uncertainty and fear we’ve all experienced in the past few months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have a magnified effect on seniors. Thanks to social distancing, they may be isolated, lonely, and anxious about their health or that of their families, making them more likely to respond to an ad or email that promises virus protection, a miracle cure, or just plain human contact. If you’re a baby boomer or older, be aware of these scams.
 
The Numbers
We discussed the many varieties of COVID-19 related fraud and identity theft. These types of scams continue to be big business for thieves. As of May 25, 2020, the FTC has reported $40.13 million in losses from scams related to the coronavirus epidemic. 


And while there aren’t as many victims in the baby-boomer generation (and older age groups) as in younger generations, seniors lose significantly more money when they do become victims.



Fraud Protection
The good news is COVID-19–related fraud can be avoided with some good online hygiene. First and foremost, be alert. Don’t respond to or click on content containing any of the following known COVID-19–related scams:
  • Offers of coronavirus vaccines. There is no vaccine yet for the coronavirus, and when there is one, it will be offered through healthcare providers, not online.
  • Offers of vitamins or medicines that will prevent or cure COVID-19. Again, there is no proven protection or cure, and when there is, your doctor will have it.
  • Offers for COVID-19 testing that show up unsolicited online. If you want testing, talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Online claims that you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and need to sign up for testing. If this were true, you would be contacted directly by your doctor or local health department.
  • Messages claiming to be from the World Health Organization (WHO) explaining how to protect yourself from the coronavirus. The WHO does not communicate directly with individuals.
  • Unsolicited messages from the WHO, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or other sources with coronavirus updates, maps, or other news. If you want current coronavirus information, visit the WHO, CDC, or your state health department’s website directly.
  • Messages offering special COVID-related Medicare benefits. The FTC says this fraud often offers a special “Coronavirus package.” If you have any questions about your Medicare coverage, you can get answers at www.medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus.
  • Messages asking you to fill out a form to claim government stimulus money. The IRS is handling stimulus payments to taxpayers. It will never e-mail asking you to fill out a form online.
 
A key component to many of these scams are overt or implied threats if you don’t cooperate or offers that sound too good to be true. And trust your instincts! If you receive a message through e-mail or social media that seems to be from a friend or family, but seems out of character for them, don’t respond and don’t click any link.
 
And while it may not fall into the traditional definition of a scam, there are plenty of opportunists out there offering masks, cleaning supplies, and other necessities who may be out to make a larger-than-normal profit (price gouging). This is not only unethical, it’s illegal. When it comes to purchasing masks and other supplies, stick to trusted friends and associates.

Stay connected, but stay safe. Online and over the phone, it’s easy to pretend to be someone else. It’s okay to ask why and verify. And it’s also okay to hang up or delete!
 
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, contact your financial institutions and notify the FTC
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