FBI SEES RISE IN FRAUD SCHEMES RELATED TO THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC
Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them. Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits. The FBI advises you to be on the lookout for the following:
Fake CDC Emails
Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus. Do not click links or open attachments you do not recognize. Fraudsters can use links in emails to deliver malware to your computer to steal personal information or to lock your computer and demand payment. Be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received.
Look out for phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money. Phishing emails may also claim to be related to:
- Charitable contributions
- General financial relief
- Airline carrier refunds
- Fake cures and vaccines
- Fake testing kits
Counterfeit Treatments or Equipment
Be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19. Be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves. More information on unapproved or counterfeit PPE can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh. You can also find information on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, www.fda.gov, and the
Environmental Protection Agency website, www.epa.gov. Report counterfeit products at www.ic3.gov and to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at iprcenter.gov.
If you are looking for accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19, the CDC has posted extensive guidance and information that is updated frequently. The best sources for authoritative information on COVID-19 are www.cdc.gov
and www.coronavirus.gov. You may alsoconsult your primary care physician for guidance.
The FBI is reminding you to always use good cyber hygiene and security measures. By remembering the following tips, you can protect yourself and help stop criminal activity:
- Do not open attachments or click links within emails from senders you
- Do not provide your username, password, date of birth, social security
number, financial data, or other personal information in response to an
email or robocall.
- Always verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type
them into your browser.
- Check for misspellings or wrong domains within a link (for example, an
address that should end in a ".gov" ends in .com" instead)
If you believe you are the victim of an Internet scam or cyber crime, or if you
want to report suspicious activity, please visit the FBI’s Internet Crime
Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
Source: March 20, 2020 / Alert Number I-032020-PSA / Questions regarding this PSA should be directed to your local FBI Field Office. Local Field Office Locations: www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field
Fraudsters have been quick to deploy scams involving the coronavirus stimulus package that would include direct payments to individuals and married couples filing jointly. Many variations of the scam could impact our members.
Fraudsters haven’t wasted any time with scams related to the coronavirus. In response to the federal stimulus package,the Better Business Bureau (BBB) reported that fraudsters have deployed a variety of scams involving coronavirus stimulus checks. The BBB Scam Tracker has received several reports of coronavirus scams where individuals are contacted through text messages, social media post/messages, or phone calls.
One version of the scam targets seniors through a Facebook post informing them that they can get a special grant to help pay medical bills. The link within the post takes them to a bogus website claiming to be a government agency called the “U.S. Emergency Grants Federation”, where they are asked to provide their Social Security Number under the guise of needing to verify their identity. In other versions, fraudsters claim individuals can get additional money –up to $150,000 in some cases. The victims are asked to pay a “processing fee” to receive a grant.
In North Carolina, there are several reports of a coronavirus scam in which potential victims received phone calls. Fraudsters told the victims they qualified for a $1,000 to $14,000 coronavirus stimulus payment; however, they must first pay a processing fee.
Coronavirus direct payments will likely be in the form of direct deposits or through U.S. Treasury checks. Fraudsters may look to seize this opportunity to create counterfeit U.S. Treasury checks to use in their scams. Knowing when the stimulus checks will be issued, fraudsters could steal U.S. Treasury checks out of the mail and attempt to cash them at a
credit union after opening an account. This was a common occurrence in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy as fraudsters counterfeited and forged U.S. Treasury checks representing the Federal Disaster Assistance checks.
Fraudsters may also attempt to scam members into providing their account number under the pretense of direct depositing the stimulus payment to their account.
If you any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a Member Service Representative at 409-276-2525.
All Eastex Credit Union lobbies are Temporarily Closed
Drive-Thru and Call Centers and loan services will remain open for REGULAR HOURS.
Account Access and Communication Options:
- Call us at 409.276.2525
- Eastex CU Online Banking and Mobile Banking
- ITM locations in Kountze and Buna
- Drive-Thru services at Evadale, Silsbee and Kirbyville
- ATM service at Evadale, Silsbee, Kirbyville, Kountze and Buna
- Wallet Pay
Eastex Credit Union’s Annual Meeting has been postponed. A new date will be announced once it has been scheduled.
Please call us to discuss ways in which we can help you through this pandemic.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!
The health and safety of Eastex Credit Union members and employees is our top priority. With the impact of the Coronavirus spreading, we are closely monitoring the recommendations and guidelines from local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
All our branch offices are cleaned and sanitized regularly, and over the past week, we have increased the frequency and extent of those cleanings. As a precaution, we are also requiring employees to clean their hands with sanitizer between every transaction and have increased deep cleaning efforts in high-touch areas inside our branches.
We are doing all we can to protect your best interest and ensure you have access to the financial services you need. Those members wishing to avoid face-to-face contact can decrease their exposure by using the following services:
- Drive-Thrus: Evadale, Kirbyville & Silsbee
- Interactive Teller Machines: Kountze & Buna
- Home Banking & Mobile App: On-the-go access available 24/7 where you can check balances, transfer money, pay bills, remote deposit capture and more.
- Audio Response Teller (ART) Telephone Banking: Check account balances, transfer funds and more at 1.800.688.2046
- Night Deposit: Available at our Evadale, Kirbyville & Silsbee branch locations, deposits are credited to accounts each morning upon opening
- Wallet Pay – Pay in person by scanning your phone and avoid touching keypads.
- Phone Access: We are always available via phone so feel free to give us a call at 276.2525.
Our website is the best place to find the most current information related to Eastex Credit Union actions in the coming weeks and months, including changes or service interruptions that affect members. Our Facebook page will also provide timely and ongoing updates.
Rest assured that as the situation develops, we will make our decisions with the health and safety of our members, employees and community as our highest priority.
Thank you for your continued membership.
Eastex Credit Union