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Privacy, Identity & Online Security

How to avoid COVID-19 government imposter scams

Many of us are paying close attention to the guidance from federal, state, and local governments during this COVID-19 health emergency. Unfortunately, scammers are also paying attention. Some are even pretending to be affiliated with the government – just to scam you out of money.

What to know about the Economic Impact Payment debit cards

If you’re still waiting for your Economic Impact Payments, you might be getting a debit card instead of a check in the mail. This, of course, is the money that’s meant to give relief due to the Coronavirus pandemic. You may have already gotten your payment by direct deposit or by check. But if you’re still waiting, watch your mailbox for either a check or a VISA debit card. And know that the government will never, ever call, text, email, or ask you to click on a link they sent to activate your card or get your money.

Military Data Spotlight: Identity theft and servicemembers

Every year, thousands of servicemembers report to us about their consumer experiences. Those reports are the focus of the FTC’s Data Spotlight, Identity theft causing outsized harm to our troops. From an analysis of the data, we can see that servicemembers often face consumer challenges that differ from those faced by their civilian counterparts – especially when it comes to identity theft. For instance, active duty servicemembers are 76% more likely than other adults to report that an identity thief misused one of their existing accounts, such as a bank account or credit card. Most notably, they are nearly three times as likely to report that someone used a debit card or some other electronic means to take money directly from their bank account. The Spotlight goes on to discuss other associated issues that servicemembers face, including identity theft-related debt collection and problems with credit bureaus.

COVID-19 contact tracing text message scams

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about contact tracing. It’s the process of identifying people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, instructing them to quarantine and monitoring their symptoms daily. There’s no question, contact tracing plays a vital role in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. But scammers, pretending to be contact tracers and taking advantage of how the process works, are also sending text messages.

Credit reports are now free, every week

If you’re feeling anxious about your financial health during these uncertain times, you’re not alone. That’s why the three national credit reporting agencies are giving people weekly access to monitor their credit report — for free.

Econsumer.gov: International scam fighter

No; this isn’t an action movie. But new enhancements to econsumer.gov — and a new interactive international dashboard for Consumer Sentinel reports — give the FTC, other government agencies, and people across the globe scam-fighting powers that rival those of an action hero. Econsumer.gov is a site created in 2001 by members of the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), to gather and share consumer complaints about international scams. The FTC leads the econsumer.gov project.

Fighting Coronavirus scams: taking stock

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the FTC has released dozens of warning letters against people trying to make an illegal buck off the Coronavirus. More than a month in, it seems like a good time to look back at what’s happened. If you follow this blog, you’ll know these have been busy weeks – with advice about spotting the many scams we’re all facing, news of the warning letters sent on a wide range of scams, and some enforcement actions filed.

Did an ID thief steal your stimulus payment? Report it to us.

Do you think your economic impact payment has landed in the hands of an identity thief? You can report it to the FTC and the IRS at the same time. Here’s what to do.

Not every COVID-19 testing site is legit

You probably know that COVID-19 tests are in short supply. But did you know there’s no shortage of scammers setting up fake COVID-19 testing sites to cash in on the crisis?

Scam emails demand Bitcoin, threaten blackmail

Reports of Bitcoin blackmail scams have taken a big jump in the last few weeks. The emails say they hacked into your computer and recorded you visiting adult websites.

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