Protect Yourself from COVID-19 Scams
Dedham, MA — Grandparents: For many of us, they are our most cherished family members. For scam artists, they are the perfect target for profit-making scams. Scammers leverage the love and care older Americans have for their grandchildren to steal their money.
Scenarios may vary slightly, but generally the “Grandparent Scam” goes like this: The victim receives a frantic phone call from someone claiming to be their grandchild. “Grandma! I’m in the hospital! I’m sick! Please send money right away!” The caller might alternatively claim to be stuck in a foreign country, in an accident, arrested or robbed. Sometimes the impersonator uses personal information about the family gleaned from social media. They conclude the call with how and where to send the funds and the statement, “Don’t tell Mom or Dad.”
If you receive such a call, text, or email, remain calm and resist the pressure to act quickly. Refrain from volunteering information or filling in the blanks for the caller. Ask for a phone number, hang up, and contact another family member or even the grandchild directly. The Grandparent Scam is just one of many that are prevalent in our community, and older Americans are not the only target.
During this Coronavirus pandemic, as in any time of crisis, scam artists are bolder and more creative in their efforts to separate us from our money. One of the latest scams involves unemployment benefits. If you are like millions of Americans, you have sought or received government help to ease financial pressures at this time. Scammers, posing as state or federal government workers, notify you by email or letter that your unemployment benefit application is incomplete. They request that you provide them personal identifying information such as your Social Security number or bank account information. Once they have this, they will attempt to fraudulently collect on your unemployment benefit or steal your identity.
Dedham Savings wants to help keep your money safe. Here are tips to protect you and your family from scammers:
- Never give out personal information, including your Social Security number, bank account number or other financial information over the phone unless you initiated the call to a published phone number and the other party is trusted.
- Beware of scammers posing as the IRS. The IRS will not contact you by phone to demand immediate payment, request debit or credit card information over the phone, show up at your door, or threaten to bring law enforcement.
- Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name. When buying online, beware of unfamiliar sites, especially those claiming to have today’s hard-to-find items: toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and medical supplies. Research the seller before you click to make a purchase.
- Be wary of any investment opportunity related to the prevention, cure, and/or treatment of Coronavirus.
- Before supporting a charity or political organization, do your research. Look online for reviews or complaints. Most nonprofits are .org rather than .com. Never pay by gift card or wire transfer.
- Beware of callers from well-known companies requesting access to your computer to perform a diagnostic test or pop-up messages claiming to solve a computer problem. Do not click on these links or allow anyone remote access to your computer.
- Do not grant unsolicited access to your home to anyone claiming to be your utility company. Verify unsolicited calls, emails or visits first using the phone number on your bill, not the phone number provided by the visitor.
- Never pay fees or taxes upfront to collect sweepstakes or lottery winnings. If you didn’t enter, you didn’t win!
Above all, trust your instincts. Exploiters are skilled. They can be charming and forceful in their effort to convince you to give up valuable information. Don’t be fooled. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! And if you believe you are a victim of a financial scam, do not hesitate to contact your bank and your local police department.
ABOUT DEDHAM SAVINGS Incorporated in 1831, Dedham Savings has assets of over $1.6 billion. Its mission is to promote financial strength and success in the individuals, families, and businesses of the communities it serves. Dedham Savings offers a broad range of financial and electronic banking services to individuals, businesses and organizations through full-service locations in Dedham, East Dedham, Needham, Norwood, Sharon, South Boston, Walpole, and Westwood, MA.