As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced more communication to be online or over the phone, more scammers have taken advantage.
From fraudulent phone calls to phishing emails, scammers will use any means they can to get your personal information in hopes of getting access to your money or using your identity.
Lisa Schiller is the Director of Investigations and Media Relations at Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin. She says scams have increased since the pandemic began and have been wide ranging in approach, but she says what they are after is often the same.
“They want your personal information. Your name, date of birth, any other information they can get that’s very important to them because they can do a lot of damage with that information,” she says.
There are ways that Schiller says to avoid getting caught up in these scams.
When it comes to phone calls, she advises people to never answer the phone unless they know the number or are expecting a call from an unknown number.
“If it’s someone important and legitimate, they will leave a message and then you can call back,” she says.
She says answering a call can risk showing the scammer that there is a real person on the end of the line and they will continue to pursue your information.
For emails, she says to watch out for grammatical errors or confusing English. This is often a sign that an email is not coming from a legitimate source. On scam websites, look for contact information. Usually, fraudulent websites will not have any traditional contact information that a legitimate website would.
To proactively protect yourself from scammers, Schiller advises signing up for the National Do Not Call Registry and report unwanted calls on their website so that the Federal Trade Commission can look into the potential scam.
“You might not ever back from them, at least the information has been reported and believe it or not, there are people on the other end that really care about that. That are looking into these phone numbers and actually researching and investigating,” she says.