Stay Vigilant for Relief Fund Scams Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

By Thomas R. Wilson, CPA | April 30, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our daily lives and make us rethink the way we operate our businesses, we understand certain changes may need to be made to accommodate a more remote work environment. Unfortunately, this has resulted in an increase in fraudulent scams focused on taking advantage of the changes being made to our business processes, in addition to scamming individuals and business out of the relief funds being provided as a result of the CARES Act.

Many of these scams are attempted via fake e-mails, texts and robocalls. Some of the scams our employees and clients have experienced, and our recommendations for dealing with them, are as follows:

  • Emails received, appearing to be from vendors, requesting payment via ACH/wire transfer for unpaid invoices. We recommend contacting your vendors separately (via e-mail or phone call) to verify any of the payment process changes being requested. Delete any unverified emails received to reduce the risk of accidentally opening any attachments or clicking on the embedded links.
  • Text messages received requesting bank information and/or social security number to confirm/verify the Economic Impact Payment received. We recommend deleting any texts received from unverified sources and never clicking on a link included in a text received from an unverified source. The IRS and your bank should not be contacting you via text (or e-mail) requesting confirmation of the Economic Impact Payment received.
  • Robocalls received for information related to scam coronavirus treatments and various work-from-home opportunities. We recommend hanging up and never pressing any numbers, as requested during a robocall. We would also recommend not answering phone calls from unknown sources.

For more information related to the rise in scams specifically related to the COVID-19 pandemic, please review these related articles published by the FBI, IRS and FTC:

FBI Expects a Rise in Scams Involving Cryptocurrency Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

IRS – Beware of scammers trying to get your personal information or your COVID-19 Economic Impact Payment!

FTC – COVID-19 scam reports, by the numbers

At McClintock & Associates, we have not changed the process by which we accept payments during this COVID-19 pandemic, and we will never send emails asking you to pay unpaid invoices via ACH/wire transfer. Please continue to make payments utilizing the same payment method you have historically used. If you wish to change the method in which you make payments (ACH/wire transfer, as opposed to checks), please reach out to your point of contact within our firm and instructions for doing so will be provided by our Controller.

If you have any questions, comments and/or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you and please stay safe.