Beware: Coronavirus-Related Scams

As the spread of the novel coronavirus – also known as COVID-19 – continues, scammers have taken notice and consumers are set to face new attempts by hackers and bad actors to steal information.

We care about you and want to remind you to stay alert for any scams that might be out there, including fraudulent calls, emails, and text messages.

What are the most common types of fraud happening:

  • Early Vaccination - Be wary of unsolicited communications offering early access to a vaccine, especially for a fee or in return for your personal data. Consult official sources for up-to-date information about vaccination and check with your known and trusted health care provider for additional guidance.

  • Unemployment insurance programs - A Nigerian crime ring has been filing unemployment claims in different states using Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information (PII) belonging to identity theft victims, and that “a substantial amount of the fraudulent benefits submitted have used PII from first responders, government personnel and school employees.” The crime ring is operating in much the same way as crooks who specialize in filing fraudulent income tax refund requests with the states and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In those schemes, the scammers typically recruit people — often victims of online romance scams or those who also are out of work and looking for any source of income — to receive direct deposits from the fraudulent transactions, and then forward the bulk of the illicit funds to the perpetrators.

  • Stimulus Check Scams - "If someone claims to be from the government with a check for you, it may be a phishing scam that is illegally trying to obtain your bank account or other personal information," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. "Do not pay anyone who promises that they can expedite or obtain a payment or a loan for you," James continued. "If you are eligible for relief, you will not need to make any up-front payment or pay any fee to receive a stimulus payment."

  • Malicious websites and emails - Cybercriminals and nation state-sponsored spies didn't take long to catch onto the coronavirus panic. Beware of malicious websites and emails coming from domains such as:
    • CDC-Covid19@cdc[.]gov
    • coronavirusstatus[.]space
    • coronavirus-map[.]com
    • blogcoronacl.canalcero[.]digital
    • coronavirus[.]zone
    • coronavirus-realtime[.]com
    • coronavirus[.]app
    • bgvfr.coronavirusaware[.]xyz
    • coronavirusaware[.]xyz
    • corona-virus[.]healthcare
    • survivecoronavirus[.]org
    • vaccine-coronavirus[.]com
    • coronavirus[.]cc
    • bestcoronavirusprotect[.]tk
    • coronavirusupdate[.]tk

    To avoid any risk, avoid visiting any of those websites. If you see any emails coming from such domains (e.g. those sent from @coronavirusstatus[.]space addresses) or if they’re linked in any emails, it’s worth taking extra precautions. Don’t click on any links within the email and don’t open any attachments. Simply close the email and delete to avoid further risk.

  • Test Scams "If you want to receive a free testing kit delivered overnight to your home, press 1," a voice on one of the calls says. "Protect your loved ones from the coronavirus."

  • Infection Scams"People are getting calls at home and being told by the local health department that they have come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus," North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein warned in a news conference last week.

  • Impersonation schemes – when fraudsters contact you pretending to be your credit union or another organization. They’ll ask for your account information, passwords and other sensitive information to log in to your accounts. Greater Texas | Aggieland Credit Union will never contact you by phone, email or text to ask you to update your account information or to provide your account number, Personal Identification Number (PIN), Debit or Credit Card Number, passwords or Social Security Number.

  • Fake charities – fraudsters will slightly alter the name of a legitimate charity to look real. Members should be wary of any unsolicited requests for donations.

  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app fraud – this type of fraud is expected to increase as it becomes the fraudsters’ choice method for stealing funds from members by scamming them into transferring money through open payment apps like Zelle and Venmo.
  • Investment Scams – Be wary of promotions that falsely claim the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus.

  • Product Scams - Be aware of companies "selling unapproved or misbranded products that make false health claims pertaining to COVID-19", such as a suspected scammer trying to advertise a cleaning service that purported to eliminate the virus from the air in Americans' homes.

How to Prevent Fraud:

  • Be cautious when providing your account information to someone over the phone.
  • Be cautious going to websites that ask for your bank account information.
  • Pay attention to calls from organizations and financial institutions asking you to login to your account when you’ve been inactive.
  • Be aware of fake emails from institutions asking you to take action, clicking a link, or downloading a document. Even if you recognize the name of the institution, fraudsters will slightly alter the name and branding.
  • Be aware of unsolicited SMS/texts, especially when you haven’t requested one.
  • Be careful of using open systems for online payment transfers, like Zelle and Venmo, to pay anyone you do not know personally. The credit union offers a secure payment feature through our online banking and mobile app. 
  • Use reputable multi-layered security software that includes protection against phishing.

Always be aware of activity on your account. If a deposit comes into your account and you do not recognize it, then alert the credit union. Whether it is for unemployment, PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) or even money from an online friend; at the end of the day you are responsible and may be found liable for any and all funds that travel through your account.

If we suspect suspicious debit or credit card activity we will contact you by phone only. You will receive an automated phone call from (866) 816-6099 or SMS/text notice from code 23618. If your debit or credit card is lost or stolen, or you notice unauthorized activity, contact us 24/7 at (800) 749 -9732.

Again, Greater Texas | Aggieland Credit Union will never contact you by phone, email or text to ask you to update your account information or to provide your account number, Personal Identification Number (PIN), Debit or Credit Card Number, password or Social Security Number. If you think there is potential fraud on your account, please call us at (800) 749-9732.