Almost everyone has heard of the typical scamming methods out there. Random phone calls or emails requesting money or personal information isn’t exactly a common practice these days! Most people can avoid being scammed, but there are some people out there who are unfamiliar with the scamming world.
Scammers sit on the phone all day, calling and pretending to be from some big company, just to scam some poor soul into releasing their name, birth date, bank information, and their social security number.
Sounds very suspicious, right?
Well… not always. These scammers can be very good with web design, which can make things look very legitimate! This is what makes the internet so scary. People are more vulnerable to scams now than they have been before. Here’s why.
People Are Desperate
The global pandemic has put many business owners in a compromising position. They’ve been forced to shut the doors for a few weeks, and now they’re forced to operate at a percentage of their full capacity. Restaurants aren’t able to serve a full room of customers anymore. They need to make sure everyone is approximately six-feet apart.
Because of the pandemic, almost all of the businesses out there are struggling with their finances. Some business owners won’t be able to keep the doors open if they don’t receive some sort of financial aid soon. Even then, there’s no guarantee that their business will last through this pandemic. Think about it… People who spent most of their lives building a successful business might lose everything.
Sad, isn’t it?
So that leads us to desperate business owners putting in for every financial aid program they possibly can. Most likely, they’ll jump at the opportunity to apply for a grant or a loan.
Scammers Know This
A scammer wouldn’t be very good at their job if they didn’t see this opportunity. Dishonest people see the writing on the wall. All they have to do is get a desperate business owner on a phone call, and convince them to hand over personal information to apply for a “grant.” As soon as scammers have that information, they can either sell your information or use it for their own benefit. This could lead to identity theft.
You might be thinking, “but scams are really easy to spot!”
Perhaps you are aware of the telltale signs that you’re dealing with an illegitimate source, but desperate times lead to desperate measures. Scammers might get over a thousand nos a week, but there’s always going to be that one person who believes every word they say. Eventually, someone will say yes and hand over their information to a scammer, which will make the scammer a good amount of money. So, even though they hear a lot of phones slamming shut on the other end of the line, they keep working because they know they WILL receive a yes.
Here’s How To Avoid Being Scammed
Now that I’ve told you all about scammers and how their brains are wired, it’s time to talk about how to avoid being scammed. There are several warning signs to look for. Here’s what you should do to stop scammers in their tracks!
Ignore or Hang Up On Robo-Calls
If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message, that means you’ve received a robocall. It is illegal for people to sell you items through a robocall. If someone is breaking the law to contact you through a robocall, odds are, it’s a scam.
Don’t rely on your caller ID! These days, it’s really easy to fake a name and number to make the call look like it’s coming from a legitimate source. The best thing to do if you receive a robocall is to hang up!
Don’t Click On Any Links In Emails Or Texts
There are several scammers out there who use email or text messages to trick you into clicking on links or signing up for a program. They will convince you to hand over personal information so they can steal your passwords, social security numbers, and bank information.
Phishing emails will likely trick you into clicking on a link or opening a file by saying they’ve noticed suspicious login activity, claim there’s a problem with payment, provide a fake invoice, ask you to click on a link to make a payment, say you’re eligible for a government grant, and the list goes on!
So how do you spot a phishing email?
- Emails might look like it’s from a company you trust and use their logo.
- The email says your account is paused or on hold because your payment failed
- Most emails will have a generic greeting, such as “Dear, user,” or “Valued customer.” Big companies like this don’t usually have such generic greetings.
- The email invites you to click a link
If you’re worried that your payment actually did fail, go to your internet browser, find the company’s phone number, and call to make sure everything is all set.
If you come across any scams, I highly recommend you report it to the company the scam is impersonating. Many people just brush it off and go about their day, but letting the company know will make them aware and they will take action to stop the scammers. Reporting might help someone avoid being scammed.
The Federal Trade Commission also keeps track of the latest COVID-19 scams. You can find that here!
Where To Find Financial Aid
So where do you find financial aid? How do you know whether or not it’s legit?
Worry not! I compiled a list of financial aid programs.
- Paycheck Protection Program
- Employee Retention Credit
- COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan
- Freelancers Relief Fund
- Unfinished Business
- The Food And Beverage Industry Relief Fund
- Go Fund Me
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- The Small Business Administration Relief Funds
Now, more than ever, it’s important to protect yourself from phishing emails and robocalls. Make sure to only hand out your personal information to legitimate sources so you can avoid being scammed.