COVID-19 scams: Five things to look out for

Illustration of online scams: hand reaching out of a mobile phone to steal money out of another person's hands

While most of us like to celebrate the way people come together during times like these, there’s no denying that criminals take advantage of a crisis. COVID-19 is no different with a number of scams popping up around the country.

Being aware of these common scam tactics can help keep you, your information, and your money safe. Here are five things to watch out for:

  1. Requests for personal information like your Social Security number, date of birth, or banking or credit card information.

In the words of IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, “The IRS isn’t going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster.” So don’t give out sensitive information over the phone, email, text, or social media.

  1. Claims to help you get your refund or stimulus payment faster.

The IRS will not do this.* If someone claims they can, they’re probably lying.

So you know: Oportun will never ask for confidential information through email. If you’re suspicious about an email from us, don’t just hit reply. Send us a note about it to:
  1. Email addresses you don’t recognize.

Double-check the sender on any email regarding the stimulus package, COVID-19 testing, or other messages related to the crisis. If it’s not from someone you know or a company you’ve done business with, don’t click on any links or reply to the email.

  1. Emphasis on the words “stimulus check” or “stimulus payment.”

The official name is “economic impact payment,” and that’s how the IRS will refer to it.*

  1. Robocalls.

You know those phone calls you get from a computer with prerecorded messages? Not only can they be annoying, they’re also a popular tool for scammers.


Knowing these basic tactics will help you identify a scam when you encounter one. If you want to learn more, you can see what the IRS*, FBI, and FTC are saying about scams right now.

Think you’ve encountered a scam? Here’s how you can report it.

*IRS issues warning about coronavirus related scams: Watch out for schemes tied to economic impact payments


The information on this site, including any third-party content and opinions, is for educational purposes only.

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