How to avoid becoming a victim of scams in New York during a pandemic: useful tips - ForumDaily
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Avoiding New York City Pandemic Victims: Good Tips

Even as the coronavirus crisis brings out the best in some people, scammers are using this opportunity to take advantage of themselves. About how not to fall for the hook of resourceful scammers, told the publication The City.

Photo: Shutterstock

In New York, amid the pandemic, new types of fraud have emerged. Swindlers are trying to “make money” on gullible citizens by offering them fake medicines for the virus, ineffective test systems, or trying to steal federal financial aid checks from those who really need them. This was told by Mary McCune, a staff lawyer in the New York Legal Service, specializing in consumer protection.

“Unfortunately, in times of crisis, many scammers quickly adapt to take advantage of the situation,” McCune said.

At the same time, gullible citizens do not always understand what information can be trusted and what not. Many clients often don't know how to get the resources they desperately need, says Carlyn Cowan, chief policy officer for the Chinese-American Planning Council.

“People who really need to pay rent or groceries or medicine may fall prey to these scams because they need help,” she said.

The main piece of advice for anyone who doesn't want to get caught up in a scam is this: "If someone makes an offer that seems too good to be true, then chances are you don't."

Below you will find a list of the most common scams, as well as tips for protecting personal information and finances:

Federal aid scams

Some scammers are calling and impersonating the Internal Revenue Service, offering to help people speed up their federal financial aid due to the coronavirus. The callers are asking for bank information or other personal details needed to actually deprive people of their checks, McCune said.

Recommendation. McCune offered some simple advice: don't trust anyone who calls on the phone and says they're from the IRS. “Nobody from the federal government will call you,” she said. “That’s not how it works.”

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has created a portal where you can check the status of your payment, and there is no option to accelerate the payment.

Fake calls from officials

Some New Yorkers said they received calls from people posing as representatives of government agencies. Callers offer to help access government benefits such as SNAP or Medicaid and ask for personal information.

Government representatives will most likely not call you: currently, the State Department of Labor is the main exception to this rule. Due to a backlog in the system, some representatives are calling New Yorkers to help them fill out applications for unemployment benefits.

The department warned that calls could come from private numbers, which could raise concerns among some citizens. Representative for security will tell you instead of asking you the date you filed your application and the type of application.

On the subject: In New York arrested a fraudster who deceived those wishing to do a test on COVID-19

You may also be asked to verify certain aspects of your application, but a department representative will never ask for your full social security number or banking information over the phone.

Recommendation. Remember, you don't have to pay anyone to get benefits. If the caller is trying to rush you into making a decision, pay special attention to this.

"If someone says, 'You need to act now or you'll lose this opportunity forever,' it's probably a scam," McCune said.

You can also always call back the service from which you received the call and find out if such an employee works for them. Or call the New York State Consumer Protection Authority Helpline at 800-697-1220.

Social media scams

Some scammers are posting offers related to the coronavirus pandemic on social media. They ask you to click on a link that leads to a seemingly real website and then steal personal information.

One version of this scam is a Facebook post offering seniors a "special grant to pay medical bills." The link leads to a fake website posing as a government agency called the US Emergency Grants Federation. To receive funds, you need to provide the resource with personal banking information and a social security number. As a result, the scammer not only gets your money, but can also download malware onto your device and use your information to steal your identity.

Recommendation. Experts advise to beware of advertising on social networks and messages that allegedly offer help from government agencies. Check websites carefully and remember that free government benefits do not include an application fee.

Phishing by e-mail

Phishing is a type of Internet fraud, the purpose of which is to gain access to confidential user data, such as logins and passwords.

Phishing scammers use fake websites masquerading as official sites, as well as email and social media messages to trick people. These posts often offer updates related to the pandemic as well as calls to action. The idea is to lure people to a site that scammers use to steal data, usernames and passwords, credit card details, and other personal information.

Recommendation. Do not click on any links from emails that you do not expect. If you suddenly receive a letter that claims to be from the government, then most likely it is not from a government agency. Call the agency and ask if they email people.

If you receive an email from a company you know, such as Dropbox or Google, but aren't sure if the link is safe, hover over the link first without clicking on it. This will help you to check where this link actually leads to by seeing its full URL.

Malicious attachments

Some attackers are using the COVID pandemic to convince people to download an attachment purporting to be a virus but actually containing malware. Such programs are designed to harm your computer and your data.

Recommendation. Trust your instincts: if an attachment seems suspicious, don't open it, even if your antivirus program says it's fine.

If an email with an attachment has an "enable content" button, don't click on it.

“If you are asked to enable content - click the yellow button at the top to run a macro - this is a scam. If you don't hit the enable button, you're safe," said Tyler Moffitt, a security analyst at cybersecurity company Webroot.

Miscellanea fraud New York coronavirus
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