With millions of people out of work and hoping to receive COVID-19 stimulus checks, the BPD and FBI are warning community members to be leery and wary of scammers seeking personal information either through email or phone calls as a precondition for any federal aid. To be clear, the US government is not sending emails or making phone calls asking for any individual’s personal information in exchange for federal aid. Sadly, while the large majority of law-abiding citizens are looking for ways to help, scammers are looking for ways to use the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them. Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits.
In addition to the above, the FBI advises you to be on the lookout for the following:
• Fake CDC Emails:
Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus. Do not click links or open attachments you do not recognize. Fraudsters can use links in emails to deliver malware to your computer to steal personal information or to lock your computer and demand payment. Be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received.
• Phishing Emails:
Look out for phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money. Phishing emails may also claim to be related to:
*General financial relief
*Airline carrier refunds
*Fake cures and vaccines
*Fake testing kits
• Counterfeit Treatments or Equipment:
Be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19. Be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves.
More info on unapproved or counterfeit PPE can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh.
In addition to filing a report with the Boston Police Department, victims are also encouraged to report suspicious activity through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at HYPERLINK “https://www.ic3.gov” www.ic3.gov. Lastly, if someone knocks on your door or rings your bell claiming a need to enter your home or see personal information, do not allow them entry and call 9-1-1 immediately.