coronavirus scams
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It is needless to say that the coronavirus has inspired quite peculiar behavior in the human race. Not to mention the desperation and frenzy that individuals and families experienced while securing as much toilet paper as feasibly possible. But individuals and families were not the only ones acting out of desperation. Businesses too suffered greatly and continue to reach out for support.

As the world shifts to become more accustomed to pandemic life, the archive of information and resources expands in all directions. Aware of the anxiety many companies share and their reliance on informational material, scammers are able to prey and take advantage of businesses and their vulnerabilities. In an effort to support businesses of all sizes, Ryan & Wetmore has created a toolkit for companies to utilize and distribute to team members to avoid falling victim to coronavirus scams.

Scare Tactics: Coronavirus Scams Edition

Not having a starting point makes any task or project difficult to undertake, so knowing the approaches scammers use is much of the battle. Below are common scare tactics scammers deploy to lure you into their traps.

  • Urgency – Scammers try to provoke you into making an immediate decision
  • Fear – Scammers tell you something terrible will happen if you don’t act immediately
  • Trust – Scammers pretend to be connected with someone you trust (government agency, your banker)
  • Untraceable – Scammers request payments through untraceable means like wire transfers or reloadable gift cards

Ignore Tempting Offers

If something is too good to be true, then that is likely the case at hand. On the infographic, provided below, are common, enticing offers coronavirus scammers send to collect sensitive information about you, your businesses, your clients, and even your employees.

Other Popular Coronavirus Scams

Now that you are more familiar with the emotional scare tactics coronavirus scammers leverage and some of the most commonly orchestrated scams used during this Covid era, here are some additional scams to be aware of.

  • Social Security Scams – Scammers pretend to be from the Social Security Administration to try to get your social security number or money.
    • The SSA will never ask you for your social security number or even to confirm the last four digits.
    • The SSA will never ask you to pay anything.
    • Never give any bank or credit card information to anyone who pretends to be from the SSA.
    • If you are worried about a call from someone who claims to be from the SSA, hang up and call the real SSA at 800-772-1213.
      • Don’t rely on your caller ID to ensure it is a call from the actual SSA. Computers make it easy to show any number on caller ID.
  • Phone scams – Scammers make promises or pretend to be law enforcement agencies and threaten to arrest you or impose fines.
    • Imposter scams – This occurs when scammers pretend to be someone that is widely trusted, such as a government agency. Oftentimes, scammers will have fake names and numbers in an attempt to prove legitimacy.
    • Debt relief and credit repair scams – In this ploy, scammers offer to lower your credit card interest, get your student debt forgiven, or fix your credit altogether.
    • Business and investment scams – These calls contain offers of helping individuals start a business or promising large profits from an investment.
    • Charity scams – Scammers pretend to be charities and ask for donations believed to go towards matters such as disaster relief efforts.
    • Extended car warranties – Byways of research, scammers retrieve your car information in order to offer you overpriced or worthless service contracts.
    • “Free” trials – Free trials quickly turn into monthly payments with this tactic to gain access to your sensitive financial information.
    • Loan scams – Scammers focus on individuals with poor credit history and offer loans for an up-front fee.
    • Prize and lottery scams – An approach where scammers say you have won a prize but that it requires individuals to pay a registration or shipping fee to claim it.
    • Travel and timeshare scams – Proposals of low-cost vacations and timeshare reselling are used in this scheme.
  • Relief payment phishing scams – Scammers will send you emails or texts trying to trick you into giving personal information which they use to hack into your email, bank, and other accounts. Never click on links in emails or on social media about your relief payment.  Always start at the IRS site to check your eligibility or to find out what to do to get your payment.
  • Fake check scams – Scammers send counterfeit checks and state that you cannot keep the money, requesting that you make a deposit for more than you owed or to another individual.

Reporting a Potential Coronavirus Scam as a Business Owner

Now that we have familiarized you with many of the present, looming scams, it may very well be the case that you come across them more frequently, similar to the Beader-Meinhof Phenomenon, or Frequency Bias.

The next step after recognizing a scam is to report it to the Federal Trade Commission. You may also want to inform your IT department so that an internal announcement can be made to staff members regarding what to keep an eye out for.

Once you have submitted a report to the FTC, it is stored in the FTC’s database which is shared with 3,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States allowing proper prosecution procedures to take place.

If it’s Too Late..

All in all, fraudulent activity and scammers will always exist, especially during times of widespread uncertainty. To ensure that your business remains safe and a step ahead, apply and integrate the above material into your organization’s daily operations. It can save you and your business time, money, and stress by distributing this toolkit. For more information on ways to safeguard the finances of your business from coronavirus scams, please contact one of our experts by clicking below.

About Lori Kubic

CPA & Manger

Lori Kubic is a Senior Manager at Ryan & Wetmore and leads the firm’s outsourced accounting services team. Since joining the firm in December of 2012, Lori has developed and supervised processes to effectively manage organizations’ accounting systems and records. Her work provides clients with detailed and actionable information on a timely basis. 

Read Lori’s full bio.

About Pete Ryan

Co-Founder & Partner

Peter T. Ryan co-founded Ryan & Wetmore in 1988 with business partner Michael J. Wetmore. Peter provides clients with the best strategies for success. His expertise extends across various industries. Peter obtained a Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Baltimore and a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from the Catholic University of America.

Read Pete’s full bio.