#onlinedating | Protect yourself from scams that target your finances during the COVID-19 crisis | #bumble | #tinder | #pof


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, self-care and caring for others have been at the forefront of everyone’s mind. During this time, it’s essential to pay extra attention to physical and emotional health as well as financial health.

The current health crisis is causing a rise in financial scams. Scams designed to steal personal, financial, and medical information are rampant. Some scams are designed to trade bad money for good money in the form of gift cards. Others target money-transfer apps and wire transfers.

It’s imperative to know that neither the government nor your financial institution will ever contact you asking for personal account information such as your Social Security number, online username, and password, account code word, or debit card PIN.

Here is a round-up of some common scams and tips for how to protect your finances.

Money mule scams

A “money mule” is someone who, knowingly or unknowingly, transfers illegally acquired money on behalf of or at the direction of another person. This is basically money laundering.

In this scenario, a scammer sends you fraudulent funds, usually a fraudulent check, to be deposited into your account. Then they ask you to send part of the money to someone else via gift cards, Venmo, or another app. Since the amount is within the financial institution’s available funds limits, the funds are made available before the check clears.

Unfortunately, victims won’t discover the check is bad until after the money is sent. Victims of this scam are then stuck owing their financial institution for the funds that were sent. Whether you knew what was going on or not, this could even result in legal and financial trouble.

There is no legitimate reason for someone to send you money and then ask you to send it somewhere else.

There are several types of money mule scams, including work-from-home jobs, online dating, prize contests you didn’t enter, quizzes and surveys, and social media scams. This isn’t a complete list, and fraudsters get creative all the time with new methods. To learn more about money, mule scams, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/03/whats-money-mule-scam.

Fraudulent charities

Criminals may try to take advantage of your generosity by posing as a familiar charity or creating a fake charity donation page. Not only do these scams cost you money, but they also draw contributions away from organizations that are genuinely providing help and resources to those in need.

To avoid being a victim of fraudulent charities, make sure you’re donating directly to a charity on its secure website. You can identify secure sites by looking for “https” at the beginning of the URL or a safe lock symbol in the header. Be cautious of any suspicious emails or phone calls claiming to represent a charitable cause you don’t contribute to regularly.

To verify a charitable cause is legitimate, check with a charity watchdog site like the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

Phishing scams

As people try to keep up with the latest news, they may be more vulnerable to fake update emails and texts claiming to be a critical alert. Be careful when clicking links or opening documents in emails. They could contain viruses that attempt to capture your login credentials or other sensitive information.

No one is immune to the threat of phishing scams. If you receive any emails, texts, or phone calls claiming to contain pertinent information, check the sender’s phone number or email address. If it seems suspicious in any way, hang up and don’t click on any links. Even if it looks like it’s coming from a reputable company or individual, you’re better off verifying the information directly with the source.

Click here for more information about new scams during the coronavirus epidemic by consulting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Finally, remember that your financial institution will never contact you and ask for your code word or PIN. If you receive an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be your credit union or bank, hang up and contact the institution directly. During this uncertain time, it is wise to diligently monitor your accounts for suspicious activity and stay cautious regarding phone calls, social media requests, and emails.

For more tips to protect your finances, visit macu.com.

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