March 19, 2020
Overall, people are working hard to exercise caution and care for themselves and others during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Unfortunately, when natural disasters or pandemics like this occur, scammers work hard to capitalize on our fear and desire to help.
Many (cyber)criminals view the Coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to profit and will prey on our need to help others and protect ourselves. LUSO Federal Credit Union encourages you to take caution and follow a few guidelines to protect yourselves and your accounts in the weeks and months to come.
RECENT CORONAVIRUS SCAMS
Several recent scams related to the Coronavirus have been identified. These include:
- Text message scam – The IRS is warning people to be aware of a new text message scam. The goal of the scam is to trick people into revealing bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payment. According to the IRS, people get a text message saying they have "received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment… Continue here to accept this payment …" The text includes a link to a phishing web address. This fake link appears to come from a state agency or relief organization. It takes people to a fake website that looks like the IRS.gov Get My Payment website. If people visit the fake website and enter their personal and financial account information, the scammers collect it. Anyone who receives this scam text should take a screenshot and include the screenshot in an email to phishing at irs dot gov with the following information:
- Date/time/time zone that they received the text message
- The phone number that received the text message
The IRS doesn't send unsolicited texts or emails. The agency will never demand immediate payment using a gift card, prepaid debit card or wire transfer or threaten to have a taxpayer arrested.
- Banks running out of money – The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), which insures funding at our nation’s banks similar to the insurance provided to credit union members by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), issued a statement this week to warn about an increase in scams in the wake of the Coronavirus. According to the FDIC, the organization has seen an increase in the number of phone calls, text messages, emails and letters from individuals pretending to be FDIC employees in order to gain sensitive bank account information. While the NCUA has not yet released a statement of similar scams targeting credit union members, we encourage members to be wary of any communication you might receive in the future. If you have any questions about the funds you have on deposit with LUSO, please contact us directly to discuss.
- False news – Cybercriminals are also impersonating officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In an attempt to steal your personal information directly from your computer, cybercriminals have been circulating emails with links for you to click, which allow them to obtain your personal information without your knowledge.
- Fake funding – In this scam, victims receive fake emails, text messages or social media posts asking them to donate to research of a Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. The money donated to these “funds” will not benefit Coronavirus research; it will instead go to the scammers.
- Fake charities – Another common scam is the fake charity asking for donations for a loved one or, as seen recently, vaccines for the children of China. Again, these donations will not benefit victims of the Coronavirus.
These are just a few of the hoaxes circulating today. We urge you to take extra precautions to protect your personal/financial information, including:
- Don’t click on links – if you receive emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO or other legitimate agencies with information about the virus, DO NOT click on links; those links could download viruses onto your computer or device. Instead, open a web browser and visit the CDC’s official website at cdc.gov and the WHO’s official 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.
- Exercise caution when donating to charities – be sure you know who you are donating to. Don’t let anyone rush you into donating. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, by wiring money, or by bitcoin, it’s most likely a scam.
- 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
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 LUSO Federal Credit Union account information has been compromised, please contact us immediately at (844) LUSO-FCU or info at lusofederal dot com so that we may assist you.