Coronavirus Scam Alert
Cybercriminals have been capitalizing on the COVID-19 pandemic to launch world-wide email scams designed to steal money, access personal information and infect computers. Topping the scams are bogus emails disguised as notifications from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). These emails may look credible with attention grabbing details and logos, but clicking on the embedded links will take you to deceptive websites attempting to gather personal information.
Watch Out for These Scams
Homeowners facing foreclosure are being targeted by scammers at an alarming rate. Please stay vigilant and be aware of these scams:
- Mortgage relief scams such as those promising immediate relief from foreclosure or those demanding cash for counseling services. Visit the FTC website for more information about these scams.
- Scammers telling homeowners that by transferring the deed to their home to a third party, they will no longer be responsible for their mortgage payments. This simply is NOT true. Transferring a title does not relieve a borrower of their mortgage obligation. Scam artists often ask for up-front fees to make the deed transfer and promise to rent the house back to the homeowner until the homeowner can afford to buy the house back.
- Scam artists urging homeowners not to pay their mortgage in order to get a loan modification. While there is no right to a loan modification, the terms and standards for a loan modification are always determined by the mortgage loan servicer – no one else.
- The California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) encourages consumers in need of cash to avoid advance fee scams in which fraudulent companies promise loans if a consumer pays a substantial up-front fee. Advance fees for loan modifications are not legal in California. In addition, collecting late fees is prohibited while a loan modification application is under review, a denial is being appealed, or a borrower is making timely payments. If you have fallen victim to this scam, contact the DBO immediately at 866-275-2677 or at Ask.DBO@dbo.ca.gov.
If you are having difficulty making your mortgage payment or are facing foreclosure, reach out to your mortgage servicer or contact a HUD certified counselor (888-995-4673) for help.
Below are some additional examples of the types of scams you should be on the lookout for:
- Scam and hoax text message campaigns and robocalls offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, selling health insurance, and preying on virus-related fears. Be cautious if you are pressured to share any information or make an immediate payment. For more information, please visit the FCC’s COVID-19 Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips webpage.
- Government stimulus check scams are already starting to appear. No government agency will ask you to pay anything up front to collect the money (no fees, no charges). Further, the government will not call to ask for your Social Security number nor your bank account number. Visit the FTC website for more details.
- Emails that appear to be from organizations such as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), or the WHO (World Health Organization). The scammers have crafted emails that appear to come from these sources, but they actually contain malicious phishing links or dangerous attachments.
- Emails that ask for charitable donations for studies, doctors, or victims that have been affected by the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Scammers often create fake charity emails after global incidents occur, like natural disasters, or health scares such as COVID-19.
- Emails that claim to have a “new” or “updated” list of cases of Coronavirus in your area. These emails could contain dangerous links and information designed to scare you into clicking on a link.
- Emails that appear to be from Luther Burbank Savings asking you to provide personal and/or confidential information
Always Remember the Following
- Never click on links or download attachments from an email that you aren’t expecting.
- Do not click links in a unexpected text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren't hacked.
- Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or for money.
- If you receive a suspicious email that appears to come from an official organization such as the WHO or CDC, report the email to the official organization through their website.
- If you want to make a charitable donation, go to the charity website of your choice to submit payment. Type the charity’s web address in your browser instead of clicking on any links in emails, or other messages.
- Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding.
- Before investing, conduct your own independent research and/or seek the opinion of a registered financial professional.
- Luther Burbank Savings will never email you and ask you to provide personal and/or confidential information.
The FTC offers suggestions to Keep Calm and Avoid Coronavirus Scams, click here to read about five things you can do.