Unfortunately, COVID-19 has been a really tough financial time for many. Sadly, it could be getting worse as time passes. In the United States alone, there are currently 22 million people unemployed as the pandemic continues to cause problems around the world.

Several people find themselves jobless in this pandemic. Although they are out of work, the bills continue to come in on time. Having to explain to creditors why a payment can’t be made by the due date can be embarrassing and intimidating.  As practitioners, we have to make a habit of educating our clients on how to prepare to live through various types of economic situations. Right now could seem like a very desperate time financially for many of our clients. Some may even start to think “desperate times call for desperate measures”. Remember, one thing is true, in times of hardship scammers start to seek out desperate people.

Although we can’t be sure of a lot in our current economy, one thing is for sure, the web is being used a lot more nowadays. Whether it’s an online job search, taking classes, or shopping, screen time has increased significantly. It only takes a couple of clicks online before people are bombarded with all types of tempting offers and opportunities. Attention is especially drawn towards the opportunities that will make you a lot of money in a short amount of time. If you have bills, this could be exactly the type of opportunity you have been waiting for.  

The last thing anyone wants to be is a victim of a scam or fraud.  So, let’s look at ways to identify a possible scam or fraud and review a few that are currently going around.

Identifying a Scam or Fraud

  • Searching for a job? People are searching for jobs tirelessly and there are many online job offers; but are they all legitimate offers or another way for scammers to get your information? Do not respond to a job offer that was never applied to. If your client is being called out of the blue for a job that they didn’t apply for and then asked to pay start-up costs, this could be two really blatant signs of some pretty shady activity. In this case, they should hang up the phone and report what just happened with an agency, for example;  the Federal Trade Commission or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Beware of any and all random offers that weren’t initiated by you. Before getting excited about something that could potentially be fraudulent or a scam,  run it by others and do your due diligence. Check websites like the Better Business Bureau to see if there is any information on what is being offered. 
  • Everyone likes free right? So, let’s try the “free” trial. Let’s get real, free trials are hardly ever free. Always ensure that cancellation policies are read with a fine tooth comb and know how much the cost will be after the free trial is over. It may be a red flag if this information can’t be found. 
  • Warren Buffet says, “Never invest in a business you can’t explain”. If your client is being offered an opportunity but can’t explain how it works or the person offering the opportunity can’t explain it, this could be a warning sign of some type of  scheme. Educate your clients on different schemes going around. If they have to pay money, it’s definitely worth investigating more.
  • During times of despair, generous hearts are typically open to give more to those in need. Never give money to any charity organization without first doing some very detailed research. Although sad and very disheartening, scammers sometimes pose as charity organizations. Scammers are typically very persistent when posing as a charity organization, after all, they are trying to get all they can out of anyone. Social media makes it very easy for large groups of people to be targeted. Most of the time, scammers have done a great job at looking pretty legitimate so, remind your client to research! research! research! If someone is pressuring your client to donate to “a good cause” and  the pressuring doesn’t stop,  this is a red flag!

Popular COVID-19 Scams

Here are some popular COVID-19 Scams to be aware of: 

  • COVID-19 Charity Scams
  • Stimulus Payment Fraud 
  • ROBOCALL Scams
  • Stimulus Check Fraud 
  • Coronavirus CON 

Mitigating the Risk of Being a Target of a Scam or Fraud

Mitigating the risk of being targeted and becoming a victim means being aware and educated on what is currently going on in and around communities near and far. Give clients the tools to make them successful. Find the resources that will help clients stay current on scams and fraudulent activity. 

Yes, the time we live in is very uncertain when it comes to personal finances. There is simply no time for clouded judgement, especially if it means losing money. Educate your clients and encourage them to pass along useful information that could save someone from being a target of a scam. 


 There are so many great resources, here are just a few. 

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