Scams, scammers, and criminals are on the prowl for your money and you need to do everything you can to stop them. In today’s world, everybody is a target and has dealt with a scam in some way or another. You know those robocalls you get? Those sketchy letters that make no sense? All are scams targeting you!
But not every scam is easy to recognize, and scammers are constantly coming up with new tricks to get your attention. We’ve found some recent scams you should keep an eye out for.
The Covid-19 Certificate Scam
With people getting vaccinated and some businesses or countries requiring vaccination, scammers are taking advantage of people’s lack of understanding. This is happening in a few different ways.
The first is a call or email from someone claiming to be from the United States government telling you to download a Covid-19 certificate or tracking app to your phone. Likely they’ll provide a link to an app outside of an official app store and tell you to install it on your phone. This app then steals your private information from your phone.
Another scam is asking for money or private info in exchange to receive your Covid-19 certificate. This might come from someone posing as a private organization or from the government.
Currently, there are no plans from the US government to create nor require a Covid-19 vaccine certificate, nor to develop an app for the same purpose. If anybody offers you a certificate or to download a certification app, do not trust them. If you have questions about a state, country, or business vaccine requirements or paperwork, contact them correctly.
Children Payment Scams
Starting in July, the IRS is sending out monthly payments to parents with young children at home. If you aren’t prepared for this, receiving unexpected money from the IRS might lead to some confusion. That confusion could lead to openings for scammers.
The IRS are the only ones who will send this money and it will come directly to you, just like the Covid-19 relief payments. Do not trust anybody contacting you saying they can “help you” get your money, or asking you to confirm your information. The IRS will not reach out to you for info, they will simply use the info they already have from previous tax returns. If you need to update that info, it’s your responsibility to contact the IRS to do so.
Mortgage Relief Scams
Some scammers have been pretending to be from a mortgage relief company or established bank, promising some form of mortgage relief. This could be a promise to restructure your debt, provide refinancing, or cover your payments in exchange for an upfront fee. Not only is this not going to work, it’s also illegal.
Risking foreclosure is scary and scammers prey on that fear. Just know that if a company does offer you mortgage relief, you do not need to pay up front. If payment is required, it should only occur after services have been done. They also must use official documents and forms to perform any actions that you must review.
If you are in need of mortgage relief, it’s better for you to work with a reputable financial institution and not an unknown company.
Diploma and Degree Scams
The world of higher education is full of scams. High school diplomas are almost a requirement for most jobs and college degrees are needed for a majority of office and upper paying careers. Scammers know this and take advantage of people looking to get an equivalent of a high school diploma or a cheap college degree. They offer programs for a diploma/degree without any certifications, which could leave you without a valid degree and having wasted your time and money.
If you are looking to get your GED or a similar diploma, you’ll need to do your homework on which programs to do. Check with your local or state requirements for a GED or diploma before investigating into a program. These programs often offer classes and resources to prepare for the final test to earn your diploma, but if they aren’t properly certified, it might all be for nothing. Some programs might offer a diploma by taking some classes, take a test or something else. Just be sure they are certified by your local or state government.
Similarly, some scammers offer the chance to earn a college degree through their local program or “college.” A lot of these are through online programs, but can pop up in physical locations too. Often, these scams offer degrees with no tests, grades, or even classes. Some even might say they can give a degree due to life or work experience. Any program offering these incentives is a scam. Check to see if the program is state or federally certified before enrolling.
Upgrades to Your Virus Protection
Scammers might reach out to you pretending to be from your computer manufacturer, a local computer repair shop, or even a virus protection company to offer you a “free upgrade” to your computer virus protection. This is a very dangerous scam.
How it works is the scammer offers you free or an upgraded virus protection, like from Norton or McAfee. They ask for you to download a type of software that lets them into your computer to control it remotely. Once they can access your computer, they can do whatever they want, including uploading viruses that can steal your data.
Don’t trust someone reaching to upgrade your virus protection. The major virus protection companies don’t reach out to let you know there is an upgrade someone else needs to install. They simply either upgrade it automatically, or require you to download and install it.
If you are worried about fraud and scammers, or you feel like you’ve been targeted heavily recently, Pioneer offers fraud protection to our members. If you have a Pioneer checking account, you already have it! If you don’t, you can apply for fraud protection or open a checking account to get it for yourself and your immediate family.
Learn More About Fraud Protection