Identity theft looks different during a pandemic

October 15, 2020
Scammers, identity thieves and false unemployment claim filers have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars this year, taking advantage of COVID-19 confusion to prey on vulnerable and scared people isolated in their homes. Some call pretending to be the Social Security Administration, demanding personal financial information to stop benefit cuts. Others pretend to be from the federal government, asking people to provide their Social Security numbers to authorize economic stimulus payments. Other scammers send solicitations from fake charities or GoFundMe campaigns claiming to be helping first responders and pandemic victims. If you receive unsolicited calls, texts or emails asking for your Social Security number or other financial information, ignore them. If you inadvertently fall for one of these scams, or you believe that you are a victim of identity theft, immediately contact the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, and request a credit freeze, which will prevent thieves from opening more credit cards in your name. Also request a free credit report from each agency and look them over closely to identify any credit cards or loans you didn’t authorize. If you believe that someone is filing false unemployment claims under your name, contact your local state employment office or contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or www.tips.fbi.gov. Make sure you document your attempts to research this fraud.

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