know fraud to stop fraud - part 7
By: Emily Jones
July 16th, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, scammers are finding new ways to reach out to potential victims. We’d like you to be informed and on-guard against those seeking to obtain your personally identifiable information.
The Office of Inspector General has recently published information alerting small business owners of fraud attempts during these economically difficult times. The Small Business Administration (SBA) does not initiate contact to offer disaster loans or grants. If someone calls you out of the blue claiming to be from the SBA, you should suspect fraud. Also, if you are contacted promising a small business loan approval with an upfront payment or an offer of a high-interest bridge loan, these are both signs of a scam. Click here to read more information on small business loan fraud.
COVID-19 scams are not limited to those who own a small business. Fraudsters have also sent out texts stating “Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate/get tested.” This text includes a link to a website that will likely attempt to obtain personal and/or financial information. Requests like these can also come through robocalls (pre-recorded messages) trying to collect this information with scammers disguising themselves as the Social Security Administration. The State of Indiana has reported that the contact tracers working with the Department of Health will call and text you, but will only ask to verify your identity and ask if you have had any symptom of the coronavirus. They will not ask for ANY financial information or personal data. They are only trying to alert people who may have come in direct contact with someone who tested positive for COVID in an effort to stop the spread of the disease and are not using this data for anything else.
Some of the best advice we can offer our members is that if you are ever unsure about a request for information, ask the person on the phone who they are with and for a phone number where they can be reached again. If they are willing to give you this information, you can then use it to check the legitimacy of the company and their phone number to verify their identity, before giving out any information that could be considered sensitive. Whether that is pulling out a paper statement from the company in question or putting that phone number into your search engine, a little research goes a long way in protecting your identity.
Remember, MidWest America does NOT send unauthorized text messages to cell phones or text messages requesting information. If you receive such a text message, please do NOT respond. Do not give out personal information, such as your Social Security number, Credit Union account numbers or credit card numbers, to anyone you do not know who has called you on the phone. If you receive a call asking for personal information, hang up and call MidWest America to verify that the request is valid.
The best defense against fraud is to be cautious and aware. For more information on catching and preventing fraud as well as how to report a scam, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov which updates daily.