April 8, 2020-
Phishing guidance for individuals
There are many emails about COVID-19 that are trying to steal your information or worse. Spotting phishing emails is especially important right now.
NCSC’s top tips for spotting a phishing email:
- Authority – Is the sender claiming to be from someone official (e.g., your bank or doctor, a lawyer, a government agency)? Criminals often pretend to be important people or organizations to trick you into doing what they want.
- Urgency – Are you told you have a limited time to respond (e.g., in 24 hours or immediately)? Criminals often threaten you with fines or other negative consequences.
- Emotion – Does the message make you panic, fearful, hopeful, or curious? Criminals often use threatening language, make false claims of support, or attempt to tease you into wanting to find out more.
- Scarcity – Is the message offering something in short supply (e.g., concert tickets, money, or a cure for medical conditions)? Fear of missing out on a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly.
Please think before you click on any attachment or follow any link. Use extra caution on any emails that have anything about COVID-19.
SBA warns of COVID-19 Scams
April 7, 2020-
The Office of Inspector General recognizes that we are facing unprecedented times and is alerting the public about potential fraud schemes related to economic stimulus programs offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration in response to the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19). The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the largest financial assistance bill to date, includes provisions to help small businesses. Fraudsters have already begun targeting small business owners during these economically difficult times. Be on the lookout for grant fraud, loan fraud, and phishing.
Scams and Fraud Schemes
- SBA does not initiate contact on either 7a or Disaster loans or grants. If you are proactively contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA, suspect fraud.
- If you are contacted by someone promising to get approval of an SBA loan, but requires any payment up front or offers a high interest bridge loan in the interim, suspect fraud.
- SBA limits the fees a broker can charge a borrower to 3% for loans $50,000 or less and 2% for loans $50,000 to $1,000,000 with an additional ¼% on amounts over $1,000,000. Any attempt to charge more than these fees is inappropriate.
- If you have a question about getting a SBA disaster loan, call 800-659-2955 or send an email to email@example.com.
- If you have questions about other SBA lending products, call SBA’s Answer Desk at 800-827-5722 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Look out for phishing attacks/scams utilizing the SBA logo. These may be attempts to obtain your personally identifiable information (PII),to obtain personal banking access, or to install ransomware/malware on your computer.
- If you are in the process of applying for an SBA loan and receive email correspondence asking for PII, ensure that the referenced application number is consistent with the actual application number.
- Any email communication from SBA will come from accounts ending with sba.gov.
- The presence of an SBA logo on a webpage does not guaranty the information is accurate or endorsed by SBA. Please cross-reference any information you receive with information available at www.sba.gov.
Covid-19 Stimulus Payments
April 2, 2020-
Most people who qualify to receive a direct payment do not need to sign up, apply, or “verify” any personal information. The IRS is using direct deposit information it already has on file to deliver the money, though you probably won’t see it in your bank account for at least two to three weeks. In the meantime, the Better Business Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, and Treasury Department are warning people that scams are ramping up.
Here’s a list of five common scams around stimulus checks to look out for:
1. Fake checks
Kelly Phillips Erb, a tax lawyer and senior contributor for Forbes, wrote that rumors of people receiving fake stimulus checks are floating around. “If you receive a ‘stimulus check’ in the mail now, it’s a fraud — it will take the Treasury a few weeks to mail those out,” Phillips Erb wrote. As of now, the IRS seems to be forgoing paper checks all together in favor of direct deposit. “If you receive a ‘stimulus check’ for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud,” she said.
2. Social media messages asking for personal information
The Better Business Bureau says fraudsters are sending out messages via social media, and sometimes via text, that contain links asking a person to enter “personal information and/or banking details.” These messages claim the information is “necessary” to receive your stimulus check. Just remember: The US government — and especially the IRS — will never get in touch with you on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media latform.
3. A fake agency asking for your Social Security number
Another variation of the social media messages scam brings users to a fake website called the “US Emergency Grants Federation” and asks for your Social Security number to verify your eligibility, according to the Better Business Bureau. “Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists,” the Better Business Bureau site reads. “Find contact info on your own and call them to be sure the person you’ve heard from is legitimate.”
4. Claims that a ‘processing fee’ will get your money to you sooner
Yet another scam claims that you can get additional money or get your money immediately if you share personal details and “pay a small ‘processing fee.’” In reality, there’s no way to speed up the IRS payment process. “If you have to pay money to claim a ‘free’ government grant, it is not really free,” the Better Business Bureau warns. “A real government agency will not ask you to pay an advanced processing fee. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is Grants.gov.”
5. Any correspondence claiming to be the Treasury Department
The IRS is a bureau of the Treasury Department, and it isn’t exactly modern. The agency most often gets in touch with taxpayers via snail mail. In the case of the stimulus checks, the IRS is relying on direct deposit information provided on recent tax returns to send out payments.
Digital Spring Cleaning
Tax Season Identity Theft
February 13, 2020-
Your Role – Internet Security and You
February 13, 2020-
January 22, 2020-