Pandemic has scam artists out in full force

People in Kansas are being warned to be extra vigilant as scam callers are likely to ramp up their activity over the next few weeks to take advantage of increasing amounts of people being at home due to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

Insurance Commissioner Vicki Schmidt put out a warning to Kansas consumers and investors about potential scams in the insurance and securities industry related to COVID-19.

“Scammers don’t take breaks,” Commissioner Vicki Schmidt said. “While Kansans are adjusting to their new everyday lives, scammers are out there looking to take advantage of the situation.”

The Department’s warning can be found on the home page of the Kansas Insurance Department’s website insurance.kansas.gov. It advises Kansans of nearly a dozen fake insurance scams and potential securities schemes including fake coronavirus insurance, bogus travel insurance, off-market securities and get-rich- quick schemes.

“We want consumers and investors to be on alert for suspicious activities to help prevent them from falling victim to a scam,” Commissioner Vicki Schmidt said.

The Department urges anyone who thinks they have been a victim of or has received solicitations for any of these types of activities to report them Kansas Insurance Department by filing an online complaint at kid.webcomplaints@ks.gov or calling their Consumer Assistance Division at 1-800-432-2484.

While the Kansas Insurance Department building is closed due to COVID-19, remote operations continue including those performed by Anti-Fraud Division and the Securities Division.

According to CPR Call Blocker, many are predicting that scammers and fraudsters will be ready to strike and take advantage of the situation as more states go into lockdown, forcing people to stay at home, and is warning people in Kansas to be on their guard for a rise in bogus calls.

In a bid to beat the scammers who are likely to take advantage of this extraordinary situation, CPR Call Blocker has compiled the top five active scams that people in Kansas should watch out for over the next few weeks as the Coronavirus situation unfolds:

  1. Fake test kits scam– someone may call claiming to offer free Coronavirus testing kits and will ask you for your personal information and health insurance details. A common version of this scam targets diabetic individuals that are higher risk, where a scam caller will offer both a free Coronavirus test kit and a free diabetic monitor.
  2. FDIC scam– scam-callers posing as employees from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will ask you for sensitive information, such as your social security number and bank account information, over the phone as a precondition to receiving federal money. Remember the FDIC would never make unsolicited phone calls asking for personal information and money, and especially would not put pressure on you or threaten you.
  1. Charity scam – you may get a call from someone claiming to be from a charitable organization which is collecting donations for individuals, groups or areas affected by Coronavirus. The caller will ask you to send cash donations in the mail, by wire transfer or by gift card.
  2. Healthcare provider scam – scam-callers pretending to work for a healthcare provider will tell you that a relative or friend has been treated for Coronavirus, and then demand immediate payment for treatment before threatening legal action if you don’t pay. Healthcare providers would not contact you this way.
  3. Student loan scams – you receive a call to tell you that new measures due to the Coronavirus outbreak will have an effect on your student loan, and that you need to ring a different phone number to find out how the new measures will impact your future payment obligations. If you ring this number, a scammer may ask you for personal information like your social security number and credit card details.

The Department of Homeland Security released an alert last week for citizens to be on guard against scams.

According to the alert, both US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and UK National Cyber Security Centre are seeing a growing use of COVID-19-related themes by malicious cyber actors. They report that the surge in teleworking has increased the use of potentially vulnerable services, such as virtual private networks (VPNs), amplifying the threat to individuals and organizations.

Advanced persistent threat groups and cybercriminals are targeting individuals, small and medium enterprises, and large organizations with COVID-19-related scams and phishing emails. For more information, you can visit this link: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/aa20-099a.