Protect yourself from coronavirus scams and identity theft

April 13, 2020

Scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to try to steal valuable personal information. Here are ways you can help protect yourself and what you can do if you fall victim to identity theft.

With so much of everyday life being conducted online during the coronavirus crisis, it’s especially important to remain vigilant about protecting ourselves from identity theft. Scammers often use fear and false hope to gain access to valuable personal information, such as bank account information or Social Security numbers. And they’re particularly targeting people 60 years and older, an age group that is especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers are taking advantage of the current health crisis and utilizing multiple channels, including phone, email, text, and social media, to try to lure you in — for example, an email claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requesting personal information or a phone call asking for your bank routing number to help you get your relief money.

The FTC suggests a few ways you can help protect yourself — and those you love — from online scams:

  • Don’t be rushed. Whatever the call, email, text, or social media post is about, remember that scammers try to rush you. Legitimate organizations don’t.
  • Check it out. Before you act on something or share it — stop. Do some research. Do the facts back up the story?
  • Pass it on. If you get offered something great, or you’re worried about something alarming, talk to someone you trust before you act. What do they think?
  • Keep in touch with the FTC. Sign up for FTC consumer alerts to help spot scams. And stay up to date on the latest coronavirus-related news from the FTC.
  • Report scams to the FTC. Go to the FTC website to file a report. Your report can help the FTC shut down the scammers.

Help if you’ve been victimized

If you have access to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)* through the Board of Pensions, you can consult with a fraud resolution specialist at no cost to you. The specialist can guide you in reporting the crime and help you with a recovery plan. To access the EAP, call 866-640-2772, or log into the EAP website (one-time registration is required; use pcusa for Employee's Employer ID).

*The EAP is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.