A Warning for Members: Beware of Coronavirus-Related Scams

Credit unions always are on the front line trying to serve and protect members. While much of our recent focus has been on protecting members’ health due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we cannot lose sight of another threat looming on the horizon. Fraudsters are taking advantage of peoples’ fears surrounding the virus. They are stealing money and obtaining personal information from weary consumers. It is important to educate our members about these new cyber threats to help shield them from fraud.

Types of Coronavirus Scams

Criminals are contacting individuals and claiming to work for the World Health Organization (WHO) to solicit data. If you or a member is contacted by a representative claiming to be with WHO, verify their authenticity before responding and remember, the WHO will never:

  • Ask you to login to view safety information
  • Email attachments you didn’t ask for
  • Request you visit a link outside of www.who.int 
  • Charge money to apply for a job, register for a conference, or reserve a hotel
  • Conduct lotteries or offer prizes, grants, certificates, or funding through email
  • Ask you to donate directly to emergency response plans or funding appeals

WHO also is warning the public about email phishing scams that ask people to provide personal information, click a suspicious link, and/or open a malicious attachment. According to its website, WHO will not transmit email from addresses ending in ‘@who.com,’ ‘@who.org,’ or ‘@who-safety.org.’ The organization also is encouraging people to visit their website instead of clicking links in emails.

The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers to ignore online offers for vaccinations or cures claiming they can prevent the Coronavirus. Consumers also should do their homework before making donations to charities or crowdfunding sites to confirm the legitimacy of the organization, and never wire money or send gift cards.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is encouraging people to be cautious about investment opportunities in companies claiming “the products or services of that publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus.”

Remember, criminals prey on peoples’ vulnerabilities and they pay attention to news headlines. By staying diligent and communicating about these latest threats with our members, credit unions can help prevent fraudulent activity.