According to the Federal Trade Commission, there have been more than 150,000 complaints and $68 million dollars lost due to COVID-19 scams. New methods of obtaining personal information are emerging, including fake antibody testing and contact tracing. An important part of keeping yourself safe from identity thieves (both during the pandemic and after) is to know their tactics. Read to learn which states are most vulnerable, what tricks are most commonly used, and a few ways to safeguard your personal information during this chaotic time.
What States Have Been Hit the Hardest?
With the influx of news stories about unemployment fraud, it may not surprise you that there is a correlation between a state’s unemployment rate and the amount of fraud that occurs in that state. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed during the pandemic, creating an increased opportunity for identity thieves to fraudulently file for unemployment benefits. One contributing factor is that many states have had to set aside normal protocols in order to meet the increased demand for these benefits. In response to this, some states have been able to streamline the number of questions a person has to answer, making it easier for employers to verify the claimant’s information.
FBI Warns of Fraudulent Coronavirus Antibody Tests
The FBI recently alerted the public to fraudulent at-home antibody tests, which are being used to obtain personal information. These fake tests have been promoted via email, phone calls, and social media. As of July 2020, there is no legitimate at-home antibody test on the market. If you are experiencing symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, contact a healthcare professional for next steps.
Contact Tracers: How to Spot a Fake
Identity thieves aren’t stopping at fake antibody tests – they’re also posing as contact tracers. Their goal: to obtain personal information or payment from unsuspecting victims. This type of scam leaves even the most diligent vulnerable, as they’re typically fielding calls from the health department, their doctor, job, family, and friends in the aftermath of contracting the virus.
Depending on your state’s protocol, legitimate contact tracers could call, text, email, or visit your home. A few things they will ask for is your name and home address, health information (i.e. symptoms you are experiencing), and the names of places and people you have visited. What they won’t do is ask you to download something, pay a fee, or share sensitive information such as your social security number, account numbers or immigration status.
How to Protect Your Data
Thieves have shown no shortage of creativity when it comes to using the pandemic as a way of gaining personal information. Protect yourself by learning about common coronavirus scams and remaining diligent. We know – it’s easier said than done. That’s why we created Zander Identity Theft Solutions. Enroll today to receive proactive monitoring and alerts, $1 million in stolen funds and expense reimbursement, and full-service restoration.