Common & New Types of Scams

Scammers aren’t just claiming to shut off power now. Our customers should know that no utility in Massachusetts will be shutting off service for non-payment during this crisis. Now these thieves are trying other ways to scam people out of their money and personal information. So many people are stressed and panicked during this crisis and criminals use these factors to prey on individuals.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning us about new scams. Ont his page is information recently provided by them and the steps you can take to protect yourself, your personal information, and your wallet.

Undelivered Goods

Online sellers claim they have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies. You place an order, but you never get your shipment. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name — including scammers.

What to Do

Check out the seller by searching online for the person or company’s name, phone number and email address, plus words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” If everything checks out, pay by credit card and keep a record of your transaction. If you’re concerned about the pricing of products in your area, contact your state consumer protection officials. For a complete list of state Attorneys General, visit naag.org.

Fake Charities

When a major health event happens, like the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be looking for ways to help. Scammers use the same events to take advantage of your generosity. Some scammers use names that sound a lot like the names of real charities. This is one reason it pays to do some research before giving. Money lost to bogus charities means less donations to help those in need.

What to Do

Use reliable organizations to help you research charities.

When you give, pay safely by credit card; never by gift card or wire transfer.

Fake Emails, Texts & Phishing

Scammers use fake emails or texts to get you to share valuable personal information - like account numbers, Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords. They use your information to steal your money, your identity, or both. They also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network. If you click on a link, they can install ransomware or other programs that can lock you out of your data. Scammers often use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know. Some scammers are pretending to be the World Health Organization (WHO) to get private information.

Other scammers have used real information to infect computers with malware. For example, malicious websites used the real Johns Hopkins University interactive dashboard of Coronavirus infections and deaths to spread password-stealing malware.

What to Do

  • Protect your computer by keeping your software up to date and by using security software
  • Protect your cell phone by setting software to update automatically
  • Protect your accounts by using multi-factor authentication (call or text codes to proceed), and secure your data by backing it up

Robocalls

Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes.

What to Do

Hang up. Don’t press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.

Misinformation & Rumors

Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified.

What to Do

Before you pass on any messages, and certainly before you pay someone or share your personal information, do some fact-checking by contacting trusted sources. For information related to the Coronavirus, visit the Commonwealth of Massachusetts website. There you’ll find links to federal, state, and local government agencies.

Keep your guard up, and don’t let the fears associated with COVID-19 make you an easy target for these criminals.