The whole world is going through a difficult period, with the COVID-19 pandemic continue spreading quickly. The virus itself is not being contained yet and the mortality rate continues rising. Therefore, there are many economic worries amidst the pandemic.
Credit Card Frauds Are Going Up
Many things continue changing, and sadly some people are looking to take advantage of the situation. There have been several reports of credit card frauds related to the COVID-19 pandemic. People need to be careful with their credit cards, especially now during this pandemic.
As the virus is spreading, there are more and more credit card frauds as well. Hackers and other thieves are trying to make the most of people’s vulnerability and steal their credit card information. In this post, we will talk about some of the ways they are trying to do this.
On top of that, we will offer advice on how to use your credit card to make sure you don’t fall into their traps. A lot of people are worried about their well-being and the health of their families, but they don’t think that their finances will be in danger, and this is what scammers count on.
Emails Related to Coronavirus Are Pouring in
Everyone’s inboxes are flooded with dozens of emails about the current pandemic. Everyone is talking about it, and there are constant reports on recent developments. Stores, restaurants, apps – they’ve all changed the way they work.
Various services that we are subscribed to are also sharing updates and important information. Chances are some of them will be scam emails as well, trying to get your credit card information and other personal data. You need to be careful when opening these emails.
Don’t click if they have links in them or some buttons. At the same time, NEVER give financial information through emails. Here are some of the main recommendations of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency:
- Don’t click on any links that are in unsolicited emails and avoid downloading attachments.
- Get your latest information about the COVID-19 pandemic from trusted sources like government websites and reliable media.
- Don’t engage in email responses with unfamiliar senders and never reveal any financial or personal information.
- If the email is about a charity, never go through with the donation there and look for charities backed up by real organizations.
- All emails that promise a vaccine or some other forms of medication for the virus are fake and should be deleted instantly.
Related: Staying Safe Online, Spending Online.
There Are More Charity Scams Online
A lot of the scammers are trying to abuse our empathy in these troubled times. Naturally, due to the corona outbreak and many governments struggling to provide help to their people, organizations have taken it on themselves to gather charities for those in need.
People who can want to donate and help others can do so from the safety of their homes. However, before you type in your credit card information and donate, you need to make sure that you aren’t being scammed. First, make sure to check the site of the organization or the charity event.
On top of that, make sure to check whether that organization is legitimate and credible. Almost all governments have some institutions that can provide you information about charity organizations and NGOs.
For example, withing the USA it is the Federal Trade Commission, where you can learn about charities and potential scams. Chances are you will also see lots of charities on social media.
Even though some of them might be legit, your money will be better used if given to an organized group that has lots of experience in helping people.
No matter where you find a charity, make sure to do a thorough background check before going through with it. If you donate to scammers, not only will you waste your money, but they will also get your financial information, and this will lead to a lot more complications down the road.
If you want to donate to charity, be proactive, and find official government-backed charities. Don’t go with charities that have been sent to you by someone or shared on social media.
Phone Scams Are Also a Threat
Also, avoid sharing your phone number with anyone. Scammers often call credit cardholders pretending that they are gathering donations to help people with the pandemic or even offer vaccines. They try to take advantage of people with a kind heart and ask them for payments.
On top of that, they will also offer your prizes or rewards while asking for your credit card information. For most people, the initial scam starts with a phone call. Every piece of personal information is crucial for scammers to come up with a believable story and trick people.
Your phone number is a vital piece of information that allows scammers to approach you through emails, calls, on social media, and so on.
How to Recognize Credit Card Frauds
In some situations, people get scammed online without them even knowing it. You need to go through your credit reports thoroughly and look at all your accounts, too. Consider finding a credit monitoring service that can make the whole thing easier.
Various credit card issues offer comprehensive credit monitoring services, so consider this option as well. If you can, make a list of all the purchases you’ve made and compare them with the ones on your account or your credit report.
Steps for Protecting Your Credit During Coronavirus
You should always make an effort to protect your credit. However, during this pandemic, you need to be even more proactive in monitoring what is happening to your credit, using your financial resources the right way, and being on top of your finances overall.
Here are four ways you can do this.
1. Do Credit Checks Regularly
It’s especially important to check your credit reports and make sure that they are accurate. By doing regular checks, you will be able to spot fraudulent activity or unauthorized purchases. You will have the time to respond to the issues before any further damage is done.
Get a credit report from all the three major credit bureaus including Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. There are many ways to get free credit reports.
Various government organizations help cardholders get free credit reports online. You can even ask your issuer for reliable sources.
2. Report Suspicious Information
In case you do find inaccurate or fraudulent information on your credit report, you need to dispute it. All the credit bureaus have dispute centers or emails and numbers through which you can contact them and explain what’s happening. Or, you can use credit repair services.
Bear in mind that fixing this bad information at one bureau isn’t enough. If it’s on all reports, then you need to contact them all to protect your credit information. Furthermore, you should contact your credit card provider as well and ask them to look into this suspicious information.
They will then recommend the necessary steps to deal with the issue. If you have to, suspend your credit card and ask your provider for a new one. If someone has your credit card information, they can abuse it as long as your card is active.
3. Continue Paying all Your Bills Regularly
Your credit score and debts are still an important factor, even in this situation. This might be more difficult, but you need to make all your minimum payments each month. If you hurt your score now, it will remain with you after the pandemic is over. (Read: How to Protect Your Credit Score)
In case you aren’t able to make your payments, you lost your job, or can’t work because of martial law, try and contact your credit card provider. The chances are that they are willing to suspend your account for the time being until the situation has resolved itself.
If not, you might get a new payment option that gives you more flexibility and time to get back on track with your finances. In an ideal situation, you should clear your balance completely to reduce the overall costs of your credit card.
Even though a lot of financial companies are offering options to their users, you should plan your finances for when the pandemic is over, and everything is back to normal.
4. Plan for the Worst
Things have changed drastically, and might never be the same again. We don’t live the way we used to, and the economy is taking a toll. This means that you should act accordingly and be more responsible financially. Even if you have enough money on your bank account, this doesn’t mean that the situation can’t change in a month.
Change your budget and tighten up expenses as much as you can. If possible, clear all your credit card debt before you change your budget. This will give you leeway in case money gets tight in the future. Many unplanned events can happen, and you might not be able to make money, so make sure that you have some in reserve just in case.
If you don’t have enough money to make your payments consider getting a loan
from your local community, friends, or family to avoid interest.
How Credit Card Issuers Are Helping Their Customers During COVID-19 Pandemic
Credit card networks and issuers are also affected by the pandemic. Their revenue has dropped significantly because people are simply spending less. The drop is very noticeable, especially because people aren’t traveling anymore.
Since a lot of people are affected by the pandemic through declining business, less work, and other limiting factors, credit card issuers are looking to help them get through this period. Here are some of the examples of major credit card issuers and banks looking to help out credit cardholders.
All Apple Card users have been notified by the company through email that they can get assistance if they need it. Apple has established a Customer Assistance Program, which allows cardholders to skip their payments for April while not getting interest on balance charges.
Bank of America
All users of this bank can access a help page on their site where they can get helpful information in case they are affected by the virus. Customers can also call the bank’s number on the back of their card, use the mobile app, or contact customer support on the site.
They can get enrolled in their Hardship Program, Clients Assistance Program, or look for individual help options. There is also news about the bank considering skipped payments for some customers.
Discover issued a statement that promised customers who are going through financial difficulties due to the virus pandemic would get financial relief. Their customers can expect assistance in the form of more flexible payments, waived fees, and different payment timing options.
The US Bank
The US bank has called on its customers to reach out to the bank for support through its numbers. People can tell support staff about any issues caused by the pandemic. The bank promised that every customer would be listened to and provided with individual solutions to help them get through this period more easily. Check U.S. Bank COVID-19 Information page for more details.
These are just some of the examples of issuers offering help, and many others offer their help.
Make Sure to Contact Your Credit Card Issuer
No matter if you are facing financial issues caused by COVID-19 pandemic or you’ve been scammed, you need to contact your issuer. Bear in mind that these companies are in a difficult situation as well, and they might not have the time to address their users directly.
Reach out and tell them about your problems, and the chances are that they will help you deal with them. Additionally, a lot of credit card providers have implemented new policies through which all their users have better conditions, in an effort to help the users get through this tough period.
Be honest about your situation when talking to account representatives, and you will most likely be able to work something out. Credit card providers want to help their customers, and it’s not in their interest to try and abuse the current situation.
Stimulus Checks Information
If you’re looking for information about the status of your stimulus check (officially called Economic Impact Payment ), you should visit the dedicated IRS website page. You can also calculate your Stimulus check on H&R Block website.
Showcasing financial responsibility is now more important than ever. Use this advice to organize a budget while this public health crisis lasts and avoid any potential scams.