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Redwood City Branch now open! Visit our COVID-19 web page for information about contacting us remotely, branch hours, and help accessing funds from your unemployment (EDD) or Economic Impact Payment (EIP) debit cards. Learn more.

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Redwood City Branch now open! Visit our COVID-19 web page for information about contacting us remotely, branch hours, and help accessing funds from your unemployment (EDD) or Economic Impact Payment (EIP) debit cards. Learn more.

Financial Tips

COVID, romance, and fake prize scams

There are hundreds of different types of scams in the world today, and they’re all intended to steal your money. The most important thing to remember is NEVER provide personal information like your social security number (SSN), account number, or online banking password to anyone; and never give money to someone that you don’t know really, really well.

Here are some of the newest scams. Stay alert and always be suspicious!

COVID vaccine scams
You don’t have to pay to sign up for the COVID vaccine. If someone asks for payment to schedule the vaccine or give you early access, it’s a scam. There is no cost for the vaccine, and it’s only available at government-approved locations, so you can’t buy it anywhere. No one will call, text, or email you about the vaccine and ask for your SSN, bank account or credit card number.

Romance scams
Fraudsters are taking advantage of loneliness and isolation resulting from the pandemic, to the tune of $304 million in losses due to romance scams in 2020. They create fake profiles on dating apps and social media to lure you in, and eventually make up a story about why they desperately need money. If you’ve never met in person, it’s a scam. Even if they sent you money or gifts first. Do not send gift cards, money or cryptocurrency. Ever.

Fake prize and lottery scams
Imagine the excitement of getting a call that you won the lottery or some other amazing prize? Scammers try to catch you off guard and trigger your emotions so they can trick you into giving away your money. If you actually do win something, you won’t need to pay fees or taxes up front. The scammer may claim to be from the government or an official-sounding organization, but if they want any type of payment, it’s a scam.

Government scams
You don’t want to mess with the IRS, but they’ll never call, text or email you to pay NOW or go to jail. Neither will the Social Security Administration, ICE, the DEA, the local police, or any other government agency. Scammers can be extra tricky by spoofing the real government phone number on your caller ID or sending an official-looking email, but don’t trust it. You can always look up the government phone number and call yourself—after you’ve calmed down and realized that you were almost scammed.

While you may think that these scams are easy to spot, remember that thousands of people are losing millions of dollars to scammers each year. Be sure to check in regularly with your loved ones to make sure they’re safe, too. And if you’re interested in learning more about scams and how to protect yourself, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information Scam Alert page.