Classes being moved to virtual and students being off of campus is not stopping scammers from targeting students. According to the Federal Trade Commission, a recent college student stimulus check scam claims to be from universities’ financial departments. However, it’s a trap to steal sensitive information and install malware on students’ devices.

Who is it targeting: College students

What it Is: Phishing scam that steals information, potentially installs malware

What Are They After: This recent email scam is disguised as a message from the victim’s university’s “financial department” regarding their COVID-19 economic stimulus check. The email claims it needs to be opened from a portal using a university login. If a student logs in with their university account, they could give away their login credentials and potentially download malware to their device.

How You Can Avoid It:

  • Investigate – If you are suspicious of an email, contact the sender directly to verify that they are legitimate. Look up their phone number or website yourself. Do not click on any links.
  • Pay attention to detail- Bad grammar and spelling can be a way to spot a phishing email. Another clue that the email is not from your school is if they use the wrong department name (calling themselves the Financial Department rather than the Financial Aid Department).

If a student thinks they may have been targeted by a stimulus check scam, they can live-chat with an Identity Theft Resource Center expert advisor. They can also call for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. For full details on the college student stimulus check scam, consumers can check out this article from the FTC.


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A long-time scam tactic has made a comeback amid the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 catfishing scams are out in full force in an attempt to play on people’s emotions and steal their personally identifiable information to commit fraud.

Who Is It Targeting: Social media and dating app users

What Is It: A scam where someone creates a fake social media profile to target victims for financial donations or sensitive personal information used for identity theft.

What Are They After: Scammers are stealing photos of frontline workers to lure in victims to give money to a fake charity, or to steal their personal information to commit fraud. As reported by NBC, one student nurse had to report a fake Facebook page over 400 times as it was soliciting illegitimate coronavirus donations.

Despite an increase in awareness of similar scams, fake accounts are becoming more common. In the FBI’s 2019 Internet Crime Report, there were 1,000 more reports of confidence fraud and romance cybercrimes compared to 2018. Those statistics are an example of why so many people might be getting targeted by COVID-19 catfishing scams.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • Research the person the profile claims to be
  • If someone refuses to meet in person, it is probably a scam
  • Never give money or personal information to someone who will not meet in person
  • Consider making all social media profiles private and report any abuse to the appropriate platform

If someone believes they are a victim of a COVID-19 catfishing scam or find a picture of themselves on a fake profile, they can live-chat with an Identity Theft Resource Center advisor. They can also call toll-free at 888.400.5530.


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Scammers are looking to scare people into falling for a COVID-19 contamination scam that contains a link that is designed to steal personal information.  Scammers are sending potential victims a text message informing them that someone they know tested positive for the coronavirus. However, it is just a trap.

Who Is It Targeting: Text message users

What Is It: A phishing scam based on fears of COVID-19

What Are They After: Text message users have reportedly received alerts that someone they know has tested positive for COVID-19. The message instructs them to self-isolate immediately, and then to click the link for further information and action. However, it is all part of a COVID-19 contamination scam. Police have warned that the link is likely designed to steal people’s personal data.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • Stay informed; COVID-19 information is not yet being shared this way
  • Never click a link, download an attachment or open a file that you were not specifically expecting
  • Follow trusted sources like the CDC or your local EMA for accurate information on the virus

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft or a COVID-19 contamination scam, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530 or live chat with an expert advisor. Find more information about current scams and alerts here. For full details of this scam check out this article from IDTheftCenter.org.


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With news of the economic hardship surrounding the containment of COVID-19, scammers are out in full force trying to get consumers to fall for CashApp scams by clicking on fraudulent and malicious links that could steal people’s money and identity.

Who Is It Targeting: Social media users, email recipients, text messaging platforms

What Is It: A phishing scam that claims to donate money to its victims

What Are They After: Like all newsworthy events, scammers have come up with a variety of ways to capitalize on the current concerns surrounding COVID-19 in order to steal money, identities or both. In this version, it is messages that offer the would-be victims’ free money via CashApp to help them through this difficult time with a link to participate. However, since it is a CashApp scam, the link is fraudulent and malicious and can lead to problems for anyone who follows it.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • No one will ever contact you out of nowhere to give you money
  • Never click a link, download a file or open an attachment that you were not expecting
  • Never input your login credentials for someone who requests them

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft or a CashApp scam, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530, or live chat with an expert advisor. Find more information about current scams and alerts here. For full details of this scam check out this article from IDTheftCenter.org


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Grandparent scams have been around for a long time. However, scammers are coming up with a new twist based on the coronavirus. COVID-19 grandparent scams are playing on the fears many people have right now, that they might lose a loved one.

Who Is It Targeting: Phone and email users

What Is It: A grandparent scam is a phishing scam that claims your family member is in trouble

What Are They After: Scammers are posing as grandchildren who claim they are sick and need money to pay their hospital bills. The information is easily gleaned from social media accounts, giving the caller a name that the person knows to use in their scam. In the current times of the coronavirus, COVID-19 grandparent scams can be particularly compelling.

How You Can Avoid It:

  • Never make a payment over the phone to anyone you do not know or were not expecting to hear from
  • Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is
  • If you receive a call like one of these, say that you have to go to the store or bank to secure the money and have them call you back; during that time, reach out to your friend or relative to confirm that they are okay

If people have questions regarding COVID-19 grandparent scams, they are encouraged to contact the Identity Theft Resource Center through the website to live chat with an expert advisor. For those that cannot access the website, they can call the toll-free hotline (888.400.5530) and leave a message for an advisor. While the advisors are working remotely, there may be a delay in responding but someone will provide assistance as quickly as possible.


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The Treasury Department and IRS announced that the automatic distribution of stimulus checks will start within the next week, with no action required for most people. Scammers are already one step ahead with IRS stimulus check scams and have started making calls asking for people’s bank account number to deposit their check.

Who Is It Targeting: Individuals awaiting the stimulus checks

What Is It: Phony IRS stimulus check scam calls asking for bank account numbers in order to receive a $1,200 stimulus check payment

What They Are After: Scammers will use this opportunity to try and trick consumers that the IRS needs their bank account information in order to deposit the check. In reality, no one has to give their personal information to receive the payment. As noted in this Forbes article, “Eligible taxpayers who filed tax returns in either 2019 or 2018 will automatically receive an economic impact payment.”

How You Can Avoid It:

  • Never give out personal information over the phone, especially to numbers you do not recognize.
  • Check the facts! If you get a call saying it is an IRS stimulus check scam, know it is a scam.the IRS will not call you. Federal aid will either be deposited via account information the IRS already has from your tax filings or they will send you a check.

If people have questions regarding stimulus check scams, they are encouraged to contact the Identity Theft Resource Center through the website to live chat with an expert advisor.

For those that cannot access the website, call the toll-free hotline (888.400.5530) and leave a message for an advisor. While the advisors are working remotely, there may be a delay in responding but someone will assist you as quickly as possible.


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As the U.S. continues to struggle to meet the need for coronavirus testing, some scammers are beginning to call people and offer them free tests. Consumers should be on the lookout for these coronavirus testing robocalls.

Who Is It Targeting: Phone users

What Is It: Robocalls that steal personal information

What Are They After: While robocalls can be a nuisance, scammers have found a new way to make people pay attention and play along. Anything that makes headline news is increasing scammers’ ability to lure people in. While hospitals around the country struggle to get enough COVID-19 testing supplies, these coronavirus testing robocalls offer the recipient a free test in their area. However, in order to find out where the nearest test location may be, consumers have to hand over personal information.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • For the most accurate COVID-19 information and testing options, follow your local news outlets or the CDC’s website
  • Never give out all of your information or any form of payment to someone who contacts you
  • Never confirm your identity for a caller because they should know who they have called

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft or have received coronavirus testing robocalls, you can contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. You can also live chat with an expert advisor. Find more information about current scams and alerts here. For full details of this scam check out this article from CNN.com.


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Scammers are coming up with a new way to come after consumers’ money. They are posing as the World Health Organization as part of a World Health Organization grant scam.

Who Is It Targeting: Email, text and social media users

What Is It: Phishing scam that claims to offer grant money

What Are They After: Scammers will use any tactic to lure their victims into handing over their money, their identities or both. In this latest scam, phishing messages have been sent out that claim the World Health Organization is distributing grants worth more than $500,000 to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. Recipients of the World Health Organization grant scam are urged by scammers to apply for “free money.”

How Can You Avoid It:

  • No one will ever give you free money that you did not apply for
  • Messages like this one are only intended to cause harm
  • Never click a link, open an attachment or download a file unless you have verified its authenticity

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft or a World Health Organization grant scam, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at 888.400.5530. You can also live chat with an expert advisor. Find more information about current scams and alerts here. For full details of this scam check out this article from IDTheftCenter.org


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As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed until next summer 2021. However, scammers will not postpone their attempts to target consumers through a series of tactics, including ticket refund scams. People should be on the lookout for these schemes under the guise of helping people to switch their plans to suit the new 2021 date.

Who Is It Targeting: Olympic fans, travelers

What Is It: A series of scams focused around changing people’s reservations and getting refunded for 2020 Olympics expenses

What Are They After: Scammers will use this opportunity to profit off of victims’ franticness to get their money back. With such a sudden change of plans for this global event, now is the time for scammers to strike and prey on fans’ vulnerabilities. These tactics will include flight refund phishing attempts, hotel/Airbnb refund phishing attempts and ticket refund phishing attempts.

As noted in one article “There is a fine-print stipulation that a “public health emergency” does not leave the organizing committee liable for covering more than five million purchased tickets.”

How You Can Avoid It:

  • To avoid ticket refund scams you need to go directly to the source. Don’t attempt to get refunded through an email with an unverified sender.
  • Stay up-to-date. As of now, Tokyo 2020 organizers have said that they are “monitoring the situation” and no decisions about ticket refunds have been made yet.
  • Make yourself aware of the terms. Airbnb’s “extenuating circumstances policy” for guests who need to cancel currently only covers reservations from March 14- April 14. Many hotels are only allowing fee-free changes through April. Unless your flight is canceled, many airlines may only offer you a voucher if you want to change your flight

If you have any questions about a scam, call the ITRC toll-free at 888.400.5530 or live chat with one of our advisors.


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