Tips to Protect Yourself From COVID-19 Related Scams

(StatePoint) As more Americans take precautions to stay safe from COVID-19, scammers are cooking up new schemes and exploiting every angle to profit off these unusual times -- from offering testing equipment to pretending to have in-demand products.

To help steer clear of cheats and tricksters, follow these tips from T-Mobile:

• Don’t answer unrecognized calls. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message and you can call them back.

• Confirm callbacks on the web. Always confirm a callback number on a company’s website before returning a call. Scammers will spoof a legitimate business number to look authentic so that you answer, but then leave a different number when requesting a call back. This is a huge red flag that you’re dealing with a potential scammer.

• Be on alert. If someone offers you anything COVID-19-related over the phone, it’s likely a scam. Always be suspect of unsolicited calls that offer something that seems too good to be true or asks you to take immediate action over the phone.

• Do your research. If you receive a call asking for a charitable donation, don’t donate while on the line. Hang up and make your donation directly through a charity’s website if that’s an option. If not, call the organization directly from the number listed on their website.

• Be suspect of anyone who demands immediate payment over the phone, or if they only want donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money immediately. Pressuring you to act right away (like prepaying for home air duct cleaning or paying for an easier loan repayment) is a key scammer tactic to steal your hard-earned money. Chances are high it’s a scam.

• Protect personal data. Never share personal information on an unexpected call from any organization. Just like donation requests, hang up and verify who’s calling before you proceed.

• Leverage the free tools. All major wireless providers offer a scam identification or scam blocking service for free, but according to a recent survey by First Orion, an overwhelming 82 percent of consumers do not currently use a scam call-blocking service.

Turn on your wireless provider’s scam identification and scam blocking services, or, simply opt for a wireless provider that makes it easy for you to stay safe from scams. For example, T-Mobile offers free Scam ID and Scam Block tools to all T-Mobile postpaid and Metro by T-Mobile customers regardless of device and with no app required. Scam ID is on by default and automatically alerts customers when an incoming call has been identified by T-Mobile’s network as a likely scam. In 2019, T-Mobile alerted customers to an average 1 billion Scam Likely calls per month – or 23,000 calls per minute.

For an additional layer of protection, T-Mobile customers can enable Scam Block, which stops calls identified as “Scam Likely” from ever reaching their phone. Customers can enable Scam Block for free in their T-Mobile account or by dialing #662# from their T-Mobile phone.

T-Mobile also gives customers free number verification. With Caller Verified, customers will see “Caller Verified” on their incoming call screen when the T-Mobile network has verified the number is authentic and not being replicated or “spoofed” by scammers/spammers. To learn more about  T-Mobile’s call protection options,  visit, T-mobile.com/resources/call-protection.

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Photo Credit: (c) fizkes / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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