Avoiding COVID-19 Financial Scams

April 17, 2020

Dear Clients & Friends,


We are reaching out about protecting yourself from many of the scams that are currently in motion amidst the COVID-19 crisis.  Crooks tend to step up their game in times of crisis as it is a perfect environment for them: stress and misinformation make for a seamless backdrop for someone trying to separate you from your money.


Don’t fall for it.


Below is a summary of the scams we are seeing, and how to spot and avoid them.  Nearly all of them are variations of scams that take place year-round.


Social Security Fraud


On March 27th, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued a warning about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to the Coronavirus.  Social Security recipients have received letters through the mail saying their payments will be suspended or discontinued unless they call the phone number referenced in the letter.  The SSA said scammers may then mislead you into providing personal information or payment via retail gift card, wire transfer or mailing cash to maintain their regular benefit payments.




Tip: No one from a governmental agency will ever ask you for bank account or credit card information—and certainly will not accept payment via a gift card.


“I need your help right now but can’t talk to you on the phone.” 


This is generally a total scam.  Never, ever send funds to anyone that emails you for any reason.  Always talk to the person first.  There are many versions of this scam from asking for money to asking you to purchase a gift card on their behalf.  This scam will generally have (3) things in common:


  1. The sender will appear be from someone you know.
  2. The sender won’t be available to talk on the phone.
  3. The sender will have a strong sense of urgency for you to take action now.


Tip: If someone asks for a donation in cash, a wire transfer via email, a gift card, do not do it without verification.


Text message from a Governmental Agency


The Department of Justice is warning that a version of this scam is currently running rampant.  In an example of this rip-off, scammers email or text you a link to take a Coronavirus preparedness test that appears as if it was sent by the Department of Health and Human Services.  These links instead contain a computer virus that then takes over your computer.


Tip: Never click on links from sources you do not know.


Fake Charity Scam


Be on watch for calls from the “Coronavirus Giving Back Fund” and the “Combatting COVID-19 Charity”.  Scammers are creating fake charities to take advantage of American’s desire to help—particularly wealthy families like yourselves.  If you have not heard of the charity before, and cannot confirm it is reputable, do not consider giving.


Tip: Do your homework when it comes to making charitable donations.  Do not let anyone rush you into making a charitable donation. 


We hope you found the above helpful and you and your family are continuing to stay safe—


With warm regards,

Brandywine Oak Private Wealth