Like many other situations, scammers have found ways to utilize the coronavirus as a way to gain access to people’s sensitive information and money. It’s important to be aware of the various ways that scammers are using to exploit individuals. They include:
- False exposure: In some areas, phone calls have been made alleging that the caller is from “the health department,” and that the person may have been exposed to the virus. They then follow up with selling either a vaccine kit or an at-home testing kit. At this point in time, there are no legitimate vaccines for COVID-19.
- Phishing emails: The usual way that scammers get valuable personal information is via fake emails or phishing emails to gain access to someone’s computer. While this is a risk at any time, the risk is compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that countless real estate transactions have been delayed or switched to remote communications. This creates an additional risk as clients might be expecting an email with instructions for online banking transactions.
- Air filtration system: Other people are selling an air filter, which they claim will remove the virus from the purchaser’s homes. They charge a fee for the alleged filter, a cleaning and sanitation. Not only is this a financial scam, but also a health and safety risk if these scammers are actually entering homes.
- Fake charities: There are a lot of completely valid and reputable charities seeking donations right now. The issue, however, is the creation of fake charities and misleading solicitations. If you are looking to donate, make sure to do your research on the charity you choose.
With all of these risks, there is a need to be aware for yourself and for your clients. For your clients, there are two important things to keep in mind:
- Never send confidential information via unsecured email. If you communicate with your clients via email, make sure you communicate where it will be coming from, and to confirm with you when they receive it.
- Provide your client with the best information to succeed. Utilize our new form, the Wire Fraud Notice (Form WFN), discuss the various ways that a scammer might try to get information and give your clients the power of knowing what to do if they receive any type of wire fraud attempts.
Be sure to stay up to date on everything related to coronavirus at PARealtors.org/coronavirus.