I hesitate to even write this because I don’t want to add to any fear or confusion around COVID-19, but I’d hate to find out that any of our fellow Reno dads got hoodwinked.
As fathers, we often feel it’s our duty to protect our family. Of course, we must protect their minds, bodies, and hearts, but it’s also important to protect their livelihood. I’m talking about protecting your family finances from those people who aim to take it. In light of this recent COVID-19 scare, I thought it important to write a little bit about financial scams and what to look out for.
COVID-19 Scam #1
A very common tactic scammers like to use is appealing to our empathetic side. One such scam invites the victim to help fund the vaccine for children in China (but, it could be a request for help for children in any country, including the United States). Another iteration of this scam could come in the form of offering to supply toiletries and other staple food items to those in need. There’s nothing wrong with being charitable, but keep your guard up and do your research. Never send cash, money orders, or wire transfers. Always donate directly through the organization’s website instead of clicking on a link provided in an email (and confirm the security of the website before making any transactions). To check the validity of a charitable organization, you can look for them on sites like Guidestar or Charity Navigator.
COVID-19 Scam #2
Another common tactic scammers use is to capitalize on fear, by offering a solution. Most notably, they will claim to have a vaccine or cure. It’s extremely convincing and they pressure you with scarcity. When there is eventually a vaccine, it will be communicated through a reputable source like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO), not some unsolicited email or phone call. Similarly, scam artists may pose as vendors to sell high-demand items like face masks and hand sanitizer. Only buy from reputable vendors. Do your research – if the deal seems to good to be true, it likely is.
COVID-19 Scam #3:
A very common email scam is Phishing, where fraudsters impersonate a major source of information like The World Health Organization (WHO) and pretend to offer important updates on the virus in an attempt to get you to click a link. That link could install malware on your computer and steal personal information, or try to capture login credentials to your bank accounts and other personal accounts.
In a time when everyone seems to be losing their minds, try to keep your wits about you. Financial scams happen year-round, not just right now, but criminals are preying on caring and vulnerable people right now. Be compassionate and generous, but be smart. Below are a few things to protect you and your loved ones from financial predators.
Protecting Your Family
- If you receive an email, check the sender’s address to confirm the source is real. WHO is aware of this type of scam, and gives advice on their website (Yes, I see the irony in including a link here when advising to be wary of unsolicited links) 😉 Here’s a quote from their site:
“Make sure the sender has an email address such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. If there is anything other than ‘who.int’ after the ‘@’ symbol, this sender is not from WHO. WHO does not send email from addresses ending in ‘@who.com’, ‘@who.org’ or ‘@who-safety.org’ for example.
- If you see an intriguing email claiming to have new information on the virus, open up a separate blank browser window, and go to the site directly to find the article. Never click on the link directly from within the email.
- If you are pressured in any way to “move fast” or “get it quick before it’s gone,” it could be a scam (though it is also a common sales tactic). Make sure to buy only from reputable vendors.
- If you’re told to send your money in cash, money order, or wire transfer, it is very likely a scam. Don’t do it.
- If you really want to give to a cause, it is advisable to seek only reputable organizations. Do your research. It’s a great thing to be charitable! Please do it! It’s important for us fathers to show our kids the importance of helping those in need; but please also be diligent and don’t blindly give to a charity you know nothing about.
- Never give out personal information (social security numbers, bank account information, mother’s maiden name, etc.) to somebody who has contacted you and you don’t know. Ever.
Be kind and generous, and remain smart.