May 27, 2020
Kellie M. Spawton
At OceanFirst Bank, we are committed to helping you keep your money and your personal information safe. Scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic are on the rise. Here are some to watch out for.
Contact Tracer Scams
New Jersey officials have advised of multiple complaints of individuals receiving text messages that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The text messages ask people to click on a link, and the scammers then try to obtain personal identifying information.
Contact tracers will not send text messages, nor will they ask for personal identifying information. Legitimate contact tracing efforts usually include a phone call to educate people, advise them that they are at risk for COVID-19, describe what symptoms they should be on the lookout for and what cautions they should be taking.
Reports have surfaced across the country of scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
Fraudulent cures, tests, vaccines, and services;
These include claims related to purported vaccines or cures, the distribution of fake or unapproved/unauthorized home test kits, and claims related to products that purportedly disinfect homes and buildings. These transactions tend to occur through websites or robocalls/spam calls.
Victims of these scams pay a (usually bogus) company for goods the consumer will never receive. These transactions tend to occur through websites or robocalls/spam calls.
Price gouging and hoarding of medical-related items.
Individuals have been selling medical related products, cleaning/disinfecting/sanitizing products, and paper products at inflated prices. Payment methods vary by scheme, but can include requiring pre-paid or gift cards, wire transfers, money service business payments, or electronic funds transfers.
There is currently no FDA-approved cure or vaccine for COVID-19. Anyone offering you this is a scammer. When shopping for supplies, only shop at known and trusted shopping sites, and make sure you can see the “lock” symbol on the website so you know the site is secure.
As online dating becomes more predominant during the pandemic, scammers are increasing their activity in the romance scam sector. Individuals use social media platforms, dating websites, online games, and well-known messenger applications to obtain information about and gain immediate access to vulnerable men and women. Scammers are exploiting the isolation, loneliness, and boredom many individuals are currently experiencing. Once the scammer forms a “relationship” with the victim, the scammer requests funds to purchase medical supplies, obtain groceries, help a loved one who needs COVID-19 medical care, or to start/maintain a business.
Mark your social media as private, so that people cannot find out too much information about you without you knowing it. When you meet and befriend someone online, never give them money or access to your personal information or online banking.
With unemployment at record highs across the country, scammers are exploiting vulnerable people who may be in fear of being unable to pay their bills or purchase necessities. Scammers use job sites, social media platforms, online games and messenger platforms to offer job opportunities to potential victims. They send a check to the victim (or obtain online banking credentials and mobile deposit an item) for far more than the pay should be for the employment, and ask them to send a portion of the funds back, either as part of the job, or to pay for supplies for the job. The check is fraudulent, and the victim will have lost all of that money, including what they already sent back.
When money is scarce, it can be very tempting to accept a job offer that sounds too good to be true. The truth is, if it sounds too good to be true, it very likely is. Companies do not prepay you for work, and they will not overpay you or ask you to send them money to work for them.
If you think you are being or may have been victimized in a scam, please call our Customer Care Center at 888-OCEAN33, option 3.