Covid-19 has done a lot of damage to many businesses around the world. The opposite holds true in the world of scamming. Scammers thrive during times when the economy is suffering. In fact, reports of scamming are up globally. According to Bloomberg, in Hong Kong they rose by 111% in the first half of the year. In Singapore, one of the safest cities in the world, the police say there has been a 140% jump in scams which has caused an increase in the overall crime rate.
Data from fraud agencies have reported that so far, Americans have lost $161 million due to Covid-19 related scams, Britain lost $21.8 million and Australia lost more than $3.6 million. According to CNBC, fraud is typically under-reported by consumers, so the real tally is likely much higher. Unemployment fraud has risen immensely since March of this year. Thieves will pose as individuals helping individuals file for unemployment benefits and then steal personal information.
John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud at the National Consumers League says, “Scammers are seeing this as an unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of consumers, who are not only in dire financial straits but are being inundated with information about Covid-19 cures or protection that are dubious at best and fraudulent at worst.”
Another sector scammers are targeting are puppy breeders. Scammers will pose as breeders online. They post photos of puppies and become very friendly with the interested buyers to earn their trust. They promise buyers shipping services and con them into sending full payments for the puppy. The buyer sends the money and never hears from the “breeder” again.
How you can protect yourself:
- Do not click any links in text messages or emails
- Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages or over the phone
- Think about your payment method
- Get a second opinion
- Don’t trust the ID on your phone