Avoid being a casualty to Covid-19 scams

Avoid being a casualty to Covid-19 scams

May 23, 2020 | 10406 Views

The Covid-19 virus has become a game changer in terms of the way we work, transact, earn and learn. The virus has made social distancing the norm, which, in turn, has led most of us resorting to the internet for nearly everything. One of the drawbacks of reliance on the virtual world amidst this virus has been the numerous tricksters looking to cheat vulnerable people by using electronic communication such as emails, electronic advertisements, text messages, etc. to siphon off money and/or obtain personal information. Here are a few such instances that we have come across. We request you to stay alert and protect yourself from such scams.

COVID-19 vaccine

As you would be aware, there are numerous research laboratories across the world working towards a vaccine for COVID-19. Scamsters use this as a method to extract money from vulnerable investors. You may come across an email, text message or a website stating that a vaccine for COVID-19 has been found, and lure you into investing in the company that has ‘created’ the vaccine in order to reap high returns. These scamsters hold shares of a listed company whose price they manipulate upwards on the stock market. They then offer these shares at these high prices. When the investor agrees to invest at these prices, they sell their shares to the investor and reap high returns. Please note: so far, no vaccine has been created for this virus. Also, companies that are in the process of research for a vaccine are usually funded by governments and philanthropy foundations. There are some for-profit corporations that are also involved in vaccine research, but most of them have committed to offering the vaccine ‘at-cost’ to the world.

COVID-19 natural cures

You may come across products that claim to be natural/herbal/ayurvedic/homeopathic that prevent/cure COVID-19. They may be high-priced and make high promises to helping you stay healthy during this period. Please note: there is currently no such cure that has been approved by any medical association or government.

Bank accounts

With physical restrictions from visiting your bank, you are relying on any contact with your bank through the online medium. Scamsters are aware of this; they may send you a communication via email/text/phone call seeking your bank details such as your account number, ATM card pin, net banking password, etc. Please note: no bank will ask you for your account details electronically.

Home-based earning opportunities

You may receive communication stating that you could become a stock trader and make ‘lots of money’ by working from home. On contacting the sender of the communication, you may be asked to pay fees to enrol for a trial offer. Remember, all financial entities such as stock brokers, investment advisors, wealth managers, etc. have to mandatorily be registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Check if the entity is SEBI registered by visiting their website. Agree to interact with them only if they have a valid SEBI registration.

Donations/Charity

You may come across a number of emails/text messages requesting you to donate for COVID-19 patients or for those who have lost their incomes due to COVID-19. The communication may state that the donation is urgently required to save lives, which may compel you to give money without due diligence. There are a number of credible NGOs and government charities where you could donate and be sure that your money is being used for the right purpose. Avoid unknown entities that claim to be engaged in charity for COVID-19.

Loans/Credit cards

You may come across a number of loan offers or credit cards which don’t require your credit history or your documents. The loan will be offered at a very low interest rate with easy repayment terms, making it attractive. You will be asked to pay an upfront fee to be eligible for the loan/credit card. You need to be extra careful with such communication since scamsters have the ability to replicate the logo and website of credible banks and other lending institutions. Remember, no legitimate lender will provide loans or issue credit cards without assessing your credit history and relevant documents. If you need a loan, it’s preferable to speak to your bank’s relationship manager or send a mail to the official email ID of your bank.

Every crisis carries with it a number of opportunities for fraudsters. It’s important that you stay alert and vigilant. Most importantly, never share your personal information with anyone.

StockAxis cares about your safety during these challenging times.

Stay safe; invest carefully.

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