By Gary Jenkins
BAPA Safety Program Coordinator
Telephone, email, and text message scams are a very present danger in the high-tech world in which live. Scammers and thieves are utilizing both sophisticated and not so sophisticated methods to defraud and steal from unsuspecting people.
Currently, scammers are taking advantage of these times of anxiety and uncertainty of COVID-19 to create scams coming in the form of telephone calls, direct mail, emails and text messages. Do not click on any links, answer any questions, or provide any personal information regarding COVID-19 if you did not initiate the communication. Scams offer false information such as cures for the virus, reports that someone in your family owes for doctor’s care, offers to clean air ducts to prevent the spread of the virus, etc.
I recently received a text message on my phone that looked like it was from Chase Bank. The message alerted me that my account was locked and said I needed to click on a link for further details.
I was a fraud investigator for over 25 years, and I grew up in the Bronx, NY, so I smelled a scam.
I did not click on the link. Instead, I got my i-Pad, looked up the fraud number on the Chase website, and called. The Chase representative checked my accounts to determine that everything was in order and concurred with my suspicion that the text was scam. I was instructed to forward the text message to the Chase fraud department. I received a response from the fraud department with helpful information on what to look for regarding potential scam communications.
Based on my experience, here are some tips for avoiding becoming a victim of a scam:
- Never click on a link in a text or email if you are not certain of the sender.
- Obtain contact information for the fraud department of your financial institution or merchant if you suspect an email or text is fraudulent. Go to the website of the financial institution or merchant to obtain the fraud hotline number. DO NOT USE THE LINK PROVIDED IN THE TEXT OR EMAIL.
- Never give sensitive information via a text or email if you receive a request to do so via an email or text.
- Delete suspected text or email.