Boston Police Department Community Alert: The BPD and FBI Warn Residents of Fraudulent Emails/Phone Calls from Scammers Looking to Hijack COVID-19 Stimulus Checks

BPD Community Alert: The BPD and FBI Warn Residents of Fraudulent Emails/Phone Calls from Scammers Looking to Hijack COVID-19 Stimulus Checks: With millions of people out of work and hoping to receive COVID-19 stimulus checks, the Boston Police Department and FBI are warning community members to be leery and wary of scammers seeking personal information either through email or phone calls as a precondition for any federal aid. To be clear, the US government is not sending emails or making phone calls asking for any individual’s personal information in exchange for federal aid. Sadly, while the large majority of law-abiding citizens are looking for ways to help, scammers are looking for ways to use 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.

In addition to the above, 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.

Phishing Emails:

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 info on unapproved or counterfeit PPE can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh.

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 also consult 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 don’t recognize.

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’ but ends in ‘.com’ instead.

In addition to filing a report with the Boston Police Department, victims are also encouraged to report suspicious activity through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

Lastly, if someone knocks on your door or rings your bell claiming a need to enter your home or see personal information, do not allow them entry and call 9-1-1 immediately.

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