On one hand, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought out the best in us with people across the country pitching in to help others. On the other, a small number of people are trying to take advantage of the situation. How can you guard against these scam artists? For starters, be aware of three common scams connected to the virus.
- Websites claiming to help and track the pandemic –Look out for websites that claim to help you work remotely or provide financial resources to the afflicted. These sites may try to trick you into giving up personal information, donate money or load malware onto your computer. Don’t trust information technology (IT) “helpdesk” agents you don’t know. And check out any obscure organization claiming to help virus victims through a reputable charity evaluator, such as charityintelligence.ca.
- Products claiming to prevent or cure the disease –When there’s a real treatment for the virus, it will be big news, and the news will come from an organization like the Government of Canada. Until then, ignore any claims of “miracle” cures. Not only will they waste your money, but, if you click on attachments from “phishing” emails advertising these fake cures, you could end up supplying crooks with your sensitive data.
- Financial help or “perfect” investments –The coronavirus has caused two separate, but related, areas of stress. The first is the health concern, and the second is the financial and investment component. The enormous volatility of the financial markets has caused much concern among investors, and scammers are seizing the opportunity to offer financial assistance or “risk-free” or “guaranteed” investments “perfect” for this particular time. Again, responding to these types of offers can bring you nothing but trouble. Your best move is to stick with a long-term investment strategy based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon.
One more suggestion: Warn your older relatives and friends about the increased potential for scams. Older adults are usually the most susceptible to fraud, and now, when they may be more isolated than before, they may well be even more vulnerable. Urge them not to make any sudden, out-of-the-ordinary financial moves.
Edward Jones takes fraud prevention seriously. We follow strict privacy practices, screen all of our partners extensively, regularly test our systems and consult with expert security firms.
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor, Nicolle Lalonde.
Edward Jones, Member Canadian Investor Protection Fund.