COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continue to escalate, and just as with any disaster, the number of scammers preying on your fear and your pocketbook grows along with it. The Better Business Bureau serving Central East Texas warns consumers about scammers impersonating government officials who are calling about the anticipated government relief fund checks.

The scheme occurs when someone calls and says they need your Social Security number and bank information to start the process of sending the government checks. They then take your information, leaving your identity and finances at risk.

Using your emotions against you is a common tactic used by scam artists. In every situation, including the current crisis, it’s important to make all decisions based on facts, not fears.

The BBB provides the following tips to prevent falling victim to fake government calls:

Hang up. The government will not call to ask for your bank information or Social Security number.

Do your homework. Stay vigilant and informed on news regarding the virus. Avoid panic decision-making when providing information or when making payments.

Don’t pay upfront. No fees will need to be paid before you receive these funds. The government stimulus checks are there to provide you with funding.

Never give personal information to someone you don’t know. Anytime someone initiates an attempt to get your bank account number, Social Security number or other sensitive information, steer clear.

Check your bank statements online. Don’t wait for monthly statements. If you see something you don’t recognize, call your financial institution immediately.

Don’t use unconventional payment methods. Scammers often ask for payment via wire transfer, prepaid card and gift cards. The government will never ask for payment using these methods.

For more resources on COVID-19, go to https://www.bbb.org/council/coronavirus.

For more information on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call 903-581-5704 or use BBB Scam Tracker.

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