Scammers exploit COVID-19 to commit credit card fraud

Banks, credit card companies, commercial businesses, and consumers themselves have learned to be proactive when it comes to credit card fraud. Unfortunately, despite these measures, this problem remains a real concern for consumers. Approximately 50% of the top five causes of identity-related fraud in 2018 were connected to credit cards.

Unfortunately, thieves continue to come up with new scams. For instance, cybercriminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic by actively trying to catch people when they’re at their most vulnerable.

COVID-19 Scams on the Rise

A recent CNBC report points to figures shared by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to the federal agency, since the beginning of 2020, COVID-19 scams have cost more than 18,000 Americans a total of $13.4 million. The FTC also believes the “true dollar figure” might even be much higher since many scams may not have been reported.

Types of COVID-19 Scams

Scammers are sending out fear-mongering emails, text messages, phone, and robocalls. Phishing has increased significantly during the pandemic spread as fraudsters take advantage of this health crisis. They claim to be from health organizations, the government, Medicare, or companies you might do business with. Ways they try to trick people include:

  • Stating they have important information about protection from the coronavirus and try to convince people to download malicious files so thieves can access victims’ computers and data.
  • Directing people to fake websites with a request to log in to view COVID-19 safety information with the intent to steal personal information.
  • Sending coronavirus-related ransomware that locks computer files until the victim pays the thieves for access to their own files.
  • Convincing people there is a COVID-19 test kit or treatment available and ask them for credit card information to cover the purchase and/or shipping.
  • Offering free sanitizer with certain purchases from major companies that are not real offers.
  • Sending out fake text messages to convince people they can track COVID-19 spread in real-time by downloading malicious apps.
  • Posing as charities to solicit money to help infected COVID-19 patients.
  • Telling people about ways to obtain free masks that aren’t legitimate.
  • Mimicking Facebook friends and sending out messages about COVID-19 that aren’t from real friends.

Be careful about clicking on links, responding to text messages, or giving information to people calling you and asking for personal or sensitive details about yourself. Always verify the source before taking action.

After the Pandemic Passes

It’s important to remain vigilant after the pandemic is over, especially if the U.S. economy goes into a recession or a depression. More than 26 million Americans are unemployed due to coronavirus, and this number could rise. This means scammers will look to victimize job seekers or those needing credit to help get them through hard times. Victims of ID and credit card theft usually end up having trouble with their credit standing because of the way thieves exploit them.

PRBC is committed to helping people improve their credit standing. Our alternative credit score model helps to rebuild credit. If you’ve been a victim of fraud or would simply like to better your credit score, contact us today to learn how we can help.

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