JUST PLAIN TALK: Avoid COVID-19 scams
During times of crisis, scammers step up their game, but the Buzman was prepared; I let my guard down, though, and that’s on me. I was in Tallahassee; my dad had outpatient emergency dental surgery, and my brother was in the ICU. I was rattled and answered the phone even though I didn’t recognize the number. Don’t repeat my mistake and respond to a phone number you don’t recognize.
The scammer was “selling” advertising for a blood drive to cover shortages due to COVID-19. He gave himself away when he read the script. It was a twist on the fake charity scam. Never rush into making a decision. A legitimate advertising campaign includes a copy of the ad and won’t ask for credit card information over the phone. Take time to research any charity solicitation whether it comes by phone or electronically.
Similar to Social Security scams, beware of email or text messages taking you to a Department of Health and Human Services page where you can take a coronavirus preparedness test. The government does not reach out by text or email for personal information. Delete any email or text message like this you may receive. Never click on links from sources you don’t know. The scammers use these links to install malware to launch later.
Realizing people are anxious about their money, a new scheme involves entering your bank information on the IRS website so you can receive your stimulus. Remember, no government agency will reach out by email or text requesting bank information. If you have fallen victim, contact your bank immediately. Another new scam involves fees to access stimulus and CARES Act benefits where the crooks request funds sent in advance to expedient payments.
Quarantine protesters are a social media scam. Eric O’Keefe, board president of Citizens for Self-Governance, admitted they “provide a digital platform for people to plan and communicate.” Sounds innocuous, but the Washington Post reported billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Mercer provides funding (April 22, 2020). Our Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, including targeted social media campaigns. Advertisers use media to push behavior, social media is no different, but these movements are far from spontaneous. Billionaires have access to cutting-edge medical care; we don’t and are expendable to them.
The biggest scam is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s state bankruptcy gambit. State and local governments will almost assuredly have to reduce payrolls and cut other expenses due to the ongoing recession. McConnell released two memos describing state and local aid as “blue state bailouts.” Ironically, Kentucky is one of the biggest net recipients of federal tax revenue. McConnell is cunning, and this is his opening move for Social Security and Medicare cuts. Given our demographics, Floridians rely on these two programs more than other states.
Opening up the economy willy-nilly while death rates continue to rise exponentially will backfire.
You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP, can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.