During the current Covid-19 pandemic, many families and individuals are struggling financially. Isolation and fear can increase as well, creating a feeling of worry or even desperation in some people. Such circumstances are highly conducive to unscrupulous criminals trying to take advantage of people in a variety of ways, including financial scams.
Efforts to separate people from their money can come via US mail, e-mail, or phone calls. Documents and callers are very convincing, and often attach the names and logos of legitimate businesses or government organizations in order to add to their credibility. The fact that there are some legitimate loan and grant programs available from the government can make this even more confusing.
Before anyone ever applies for money or provides personal information, they should talk to other trusted people including family, friends, and financial advisers. People should not feel embarrassed asking for help or advice in such matters. People should not provide or confirm personal information over the phone to someone that has called you.
To complicate matters further, our current pandemic does provide some situations where a government official may call to ask and confirm information, such as a contact tracer from the Department of Health. If you get such a call, confirm the person’s name and tell them you will call back. Then get the phone number from a different source (such as the agency’s website) and call the person back. You can then provide the requested information. This is a relatively reliable way to make certain the person is who they say they are.