Coronavirus Scams Continue Unabated

The number of scams and scammers using the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a platform for theft continues to grow.

The public’s need for COVID-19 information, online purchases, and charitable donations are being exploited at historic levels, according to public service announcements posted by the FBI.

The FBI warns that online fraud and identity theft are rampant during the CVOID-10 pandemic, and cybercriminals are doing their best to take advantage of those in need.

As the range of online criminal behavior is expanding, the FBI wants the public to be aware of some of the worst and most prolific scams that cybercriminals currently have to offer.

Payment Protection Program (PPP) phishing emails are flooding the market. These emails are being broadcasted out to everyone and not targeting the business contact who applied for the loan. The emails are often convincing.

Fake emails and apps claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other respected information sources offering Coronavirus news and tracking are rampant. The FBI warns that following email links, opening attachments, and sideloading apps (apps downloaded from a third-party and not from the official app stores) also can lead to identity theft and malware.

Phishing emails saying you need to verify your personal information, even if it offers a financial stimulus payment from the government, should be deleted and not acted upon. No matter how tempting the reward promised, know that government agencies (like the IRS) never send unsolicited emails asking for private information. The FBI also warns that phishing email topics such as financial relief, fake cures, vaccines, testing kits, and airline refunds should not be responded to. Fake GoFundMe pages and other social media charitable contribution sites also can be fraudulent.

Counterfeit PPE equipment and Coronavirus treatments are being exploited. The need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is prompting fake claims. The sale of unapproved and counterfeit masks, goggles, gowns, gloves, sanitizing products, virus cures, and more are being pushed online. A spike in shipping and other cyber fraud means consumers may pay for products and shipping, but never receive them. Meanwhile, a bad actor may have your payment card information, address and possibly enough personal details for identity fraud.

Tips from the Federal Trade Commission

  • Don’t respond to texts, emails or phone calls about stimulus payment checks from the government. Don’t click on links or attachments in texts or emails you did not expect.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations.  There are no products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 at this time.
  • Be wary of ads for test kits.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced approval for one home test kit, which requires a doctor’s order.  But most test kits being advertised have not been approved by the FDA, and are without proof that they work.
  • Hang up on robocalls.  Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes. Scammers use these illegal sales calls to get your money and your personal information.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations.  Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation.  Never donate cash, by gift card or by wiring money.

Stay in the Know

Overall, the message from the FBI and the FTC during this time is to be extra vigilant and cyber-smart. Hackers know how vulnerable the world is to Coronavirus fears, and everything involved with the pandemic can be exploited.

The FBI’s ic3.gov has helpful information and trusted sources for PPE, including where to report scammers so others can avoid them. They welcome all concerned to visit the site frequently as it is continually being updated with legitimate Coronavirus-related information and resources.

Go to ftc.gov/coronavirus for the latest information on COVID-19 scams. Sign up to get FTC’s alerts at ftc.gov/subscribe.

Thank You While We Work Together During the Coronavirus

As restrictions put in place to blunt the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) are beginning to be relaxed, American Federal Bank continues to deploy precautionary measures to protect customers and our employees and to provide essential banking services through our Drive-Ups and digital and mobile services so our customers can bank from anywhere at any time.

Our bank lobbies, at this time, continue to be closed to provide the safest environment for our employees and our customers. We’ll let you know when our lobbies will re-open.

Drive-Ups Open

Customers can bank at our Drive-Ups and use our Night Depositories and surcharge-free MoneyPass® ATMs. Online Banking and our Mobile Banking app are available as convenient and secure ways to check account status, pay bills, deposit checks and move money between accounts and to family members, friends and personal service providers at any time and from almost anywhere.

You can use Mobile Wallet to pay at stores where you see the contactless symbol. No need to touch cash or, in most cases, the point-of-purchase terminal. Plus, you can use your digital wallet to pay for purchases online and in-app at participating merchants.

Focus on Cleanliness

While our bank lobbies are closed, our top priority is to ensure the health and safety of our customers and employees at each of our sales offices.

We are taking proactive steps to clean and disinfect our facilities to limit the risk of exposure, based on guidelines form the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state recommendations, so that when we re-open our lobbies, the environment will be ship-shape for everyone.

Employees will continue to use personal protective equipment, and we will be asking customers and visitors to practice physical distancing.

Small Business and Ag Operations

American Federal is committed to helping small businesses and farm operations with financial challenges due to the Coronavirus economic impact.

The United States Congress has authorized two rounds of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through the Small Business Administration for businesses and farm operations facing extraordinary circumstances.

We have processed more than 625 PPP loans for $45 million dollars in volume to assist our commercial clients. American Federal Bankers have worked evenings and weekends to help our clients with their PPP loan applications and collecting the required paperwork. Clients have expressed their appreciation like this: “you are the best,” “you make local decisions” and “you got our loan approved when others didn’t have access or couldn’t get it processed.”

Trusted Advice and Solutions

We understand that you may need assistance to help you make more informed decisions in this challenging time.

American Federal Bankers are always ready to listen and help you find the best solutions to reach your goals …. whether it is adjusting your budget, evaluating your best options for using your government stimulus payment or accessing emergency funds, building savings, reviewing your retirement goals, or understanding how to evaluate paying down debt or using our electronic services.

Keep Account, Personal Information Safe

To help keep your account information safe and secure during this time, make sure your contact information is up to date, and set up security account alerts.

Remember, if we need to reach out to you, we will never ask for personal or financial information or an access code through email, text or unsolicited phone calls. Visit Federal Trade Commission Coronavirus Scam for tips on how to recognize potential scams and learn more about how to keep your accounts and personal information safe.

We’re Here to Support You

As new developments emerge, we will share information with you about how we will continue to operate safely and effectively and assist our customers.

American Federal Bank