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.
Update your software. Older versions of programs aren’t up-to-date with
the latest security protocols and can leave you vulnerable to
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.
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.
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.
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
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.)
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.
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
cash in on confusion over vaccine verification methods
by Colleen Tressler, Division of Consumer
and Business Education, FTC
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.
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.
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.
with airlines, cruise lines, and event venues about their
rely on information from someone who calls, texts, or emails you out of
government about its vaccine verification plans
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.
money is coming to families…and scammers are ready
by Lisa Lake, Consumer Education
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 IRS.gov for the latest info on who qualifies,
how much you’ll get, and how to address any problems you might run into.
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:
the IRS will be sending these payments. Anyone trying to “help” you get
your child tax credit is really after your money.
by Colleen Tressler, Division of Consumer and Business
are using a new trick to steal your money and personal information: a bogus
COVID vaccine survey.
People across the country are
reporting getting emails and texts out of the blue, asking them to complete a
limited-time survey about the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccine. (And no
doubt, there may be one for Johnson & Johnson, too.) In exchange, people
are offered a free reward, but asked to pay shipping fees.
get an email or text like this, STOP. It’s a scam.
surveys ask for your credit card or bank account number to pay for a “free”
get an email or text you’re not sure about:
on any links or open attachments. Doing so could install harmful malware that steals your personal
information without you realizing it.
Don’t call or use the number in
the email or text. If you want to call the company that supposedly sent
the message, look up its phone number online.
Don’t give your bank account,
credit card, or personal information to someone who contacts you out of
you get an email or text that asks for your personal information and you
think it could be a scam, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
7 Things to Know About Fraud Alerts
A fraud alert encourages lenders and creditors to take extra
steps to verify your identity before issuing credit
You only need to contact one of the three nationwide credit
bureaus to place a fraud alert - that bureau will transmit your request to the
If you have a police report or a Federal Trade Commission
Identity Theft Report, a 7-year extended fraud alert is available
you’ve been a victim of identity theft, it’s tough to know what to do
first. One of the phrases you may have heard when it comes to identity theft is
a fraud alert. But do you know what fraud alerts do, what types are available
or how fraud alerts work?
A fraud alert is a notice that is placed on
your credit report that alerts credit card companies and others who may extend
you credit that you may have been a victim of fraud, including identity
theft. Think of it as a “red flag” to potential lenders and creditors.
alerts are free. To place a fraud alert on your Equifax credit report, you can
create a myEquifaxTM account online;
call Equifax at (800) 525-6285; or download this form to request a fraud alert by
are seven things you might not know about fraud alerts.
A fraud alert
encourages third parties to take extra steps to verify your identity before
extending credit. What exactly does this mean? With an initial
one-year fraud alert, companies are encouraged to take reasonable steps to
confirm you are who you say you are, such as contacting you at a phone number
you provide, before completing a request for credit. This can make it more
difficult for an identity thief or fraudster to open new accounts or modify
existing accounts in your name. However, it’s important to note a fraud alert
would not prevent an identity thief from attempting to use an existing
account – a credit card, for example.
There is a
seven-year fraud alert available to you. These fraud alerts are also known as
extended fraud alerts. An extended fraud alert on your credit
reports lasts for seven years. In order to place an extended fraud alert, a
police report or a Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Report is
required. To place an extended fraud alert, you can download this form to request by mail.
members, there is an active duty military alert. An active duty
alert is an option specifically available for U.S. service men and women. Like
an initial one-year fraud alert, an active duty alert encourages companies to
take extra steps to verify your identity, such as contacting you by phone,
before opening new accounts in your name or modifying existing ones. This type
of fraud alert also lasts for one year. Service men and women can have a
personal representative with a Power of Attorney add an active duty alert on
their behalf if they are already deployed.
You can update
or remove a fraud alert by phone or mail. Removing or
updating contact information on a fraud alert—one-year, seven-year, or active
duty military alert—can be done by phone or mail at any of the three nationwide
credit bureaus. At Equifax, if you wish to update your information over the
phone, you will need to answer questions that are designed to verify your
identity. If your identity can’t be verified, we will provide you with more
information about the documents you’ll need to mail to us in order for us to
make sure we validate your identity. If you choose to update your information
by mail, you'll need to send a request in writing along with documents to
verify your identity. Learn more about which documents are accepted.
You only need to
contact one of the nationwide credit bureaus in order to have an initial
one-year fraud alert, active duty alert or extended fraud
alert placed on all three of your credit reports. Fraud
alerts are designed so that you only have to contact one of the three
nationwide credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian or TransUnion -- online, by
phone, or by mail to request an initial one-year fraud alert, active duty alert
or extended fraud alert on your credit report. The credit bureau you contact
must pass the request on to the other two bureaus.
Someone else is
able to manage your fraud alert on your behalf. A “personal representative” can be designated to manage a fraud alert on your
behalf with a Power of Attorney or court appointed document. The personal
representative can add fraud alerts, delete them or update contact information.