identity theft and scams

Identity Theft and Scams

Links from the video:

Filing a false unemployment claim

Identity theft recovery steps

Monitor your Credit Report

Freeze your credit report:  Transunion  Experian   Equifax

Eight Rules for Shutting Down Hackers

If you actually suspect a COVID scam could be at play, watch for these warning signs. Don’t share your personal information and always monitor your accounts for unexpected or suspicious activity.

  1. Update your software. Older versions of programs aren’t up-to-date with the latest security protocols and can leave you vulnerable to attack.
  2. Change your passwords. Especially if you tend to use the same password for multiple accounts, they should be changed. At a certain point, it’s impossible to remember all your passwords, which is where a password manager can come in handy.
  3. Don’t save your credit card or other personal details on sites you frequently visit. Yes, it’s a pain to enter your information anew every time you make a purchase, but it’s an important step that can keep your information safe in the event of a hack.
  4. Be cautious of links. This includes links you may receive in an email, or links you find on social media. Make sure anything you click on is from a trusted, reputable source.
  5. Only use trusted Wi-Fi networks. When you need to send an urgent email or secure that final bid on eBay, it can be very very tempting to hop onto the closest wifi network, even if it’s unsecured. Don’t. These networks are where scammers can gain access to your personal information.
  6. Use two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is something you can set up for most any account you may have, including email and social media. (This is when you receive a secure code to a phone or email address in order to gain access to an account.)
  7. Limit personal sharing. We already went over how you shouldn’t share pictures of your vaccination card. Likewise you shouldn’t share details on your next vacation, the kind of credit card you use, the new house you just bought, or anything else that can give scammers the access they might need to steal your identity.
  8. Monitor your information. This means using a paid identity theft protection service, and/or requesting copies of your credit report regularly. If a problem arises, you want to be able to head it off and dispute it ASAP. 

Source: Jean Chatzky


Scammers cash in on confusion over vaccine verification methods

by Colleen Tressler, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC

More than a year into the pandemic, and months after the first rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, people are eager to get back to their regular activities. But some activities might require you to show that you’ve been vaccinated or had a recent negative COVID-19 test. How you do that may depend on the activity and where you live.

Right now, there’s no standard way to prove you’ve been vaccinated or tested negative. Sure, there are those CDC COVID-19 vaccination cards people get when they get their vaccine. But they were never designed to prove your vaccination status and they may not be enough. Some states, companies, colleges, and other organizations are creating their own verification products and services, including apps and digital passports or certificates. Some connect to state immunization databases while others rely on individual self-report. The patchwork approach gives scammers an opportunity to cash in on the confusion.

Besides not sharing your COVID-19 vaccination card online because of the risk for identity theft, here are a few other ways to help stay ahead of the scammers.

  • Be skeptical of anyone contacting you from the federal government. Right now, there are no official plans to create a national vaccine verification app or certificate or passport. If you get a call, email, or text from someone saying they’re from the federal government, and asking you for personal information or money to get a national vaccine certificate or passport, that’s a scam.
  • Check with airlines, cruise lines, and event venues about their requirements. Don’t rely on information from someone who calls, texts, or emails you out of the blue.
  • Contact your state government about its vaccine verification plans and requirements.
  • Don’t share your information with just anyone. Scammers often set up real-looking websites to sell fake goods and services, so why not vaccine verification certificates or passports? Before you share any information online, check out who’s asking for it. Search online for the company or organization’s name with words like “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.” Think long and hard before you share personal information, like your Social Security, Medicare, credit card, or bank account numbers. Scammers can steal your information to commit fraud and identity theft.

More money is coming to families…and scammers are ready

by Lisa Lake, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, eligible families will get monthly payments from the government from July 15 through December 2021. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will send these monthly payments directly to people through direct deposit, paper checks, or debit cards. Unlike economic impact payments, these payments are an advance on families’ child tax credit. People who are eligible will get up to half of their child tax credit in these monthly payments and the other half when they file their 2021 taxes.

If you qualify for payments — which depends, in part, on how much you make — you’ll get them on about the 15th of each month, automatically, without having to do anything. The IRS is working to get online systems set up on its webpage and make sure all questions get answered. Go to for the latest info on who qualifies, how much you’ll get, and how to address any problems you might run into.

When money from the government is in the news, we know scammers are about to run their standard playbook. They may call, email, text, or DM you. They’ll say they can help you get your payments earlier (they can’t), get you more money (also no), or tell you other lies (for sure). Here’s the real deal:

  • Only the IRS will be sending these payments. Anyone trying to “help” you get your child tax credit is really after your money.
  • The government will NEVER call, text, email, or DM you out of the blue, asking for money or information. Keep your money — and your Social Security, bank account, debit and credit card numbers — to yourself.
  • Nobody legit will ever demand that you pay by gift card, wire transfer through companies like Money Gram or Western Union, or cryptocurrency. That’s a scam, every time.

If someone tries to scam you out of these payments or anything else, report it to the FTC at

Last updated June 2, 2021