As of August 5, 2020 the Federal Trade Commission has logged almost 154,000 consumer complaints related to COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payment scams. These claims have resulted in $98.37 million in consumer losses so far. Scammers closely follow news headlines and adapt their scheme to meet the times.
Here are a few of the current scams:
Scammers are pretending to be contact tracers. A legitimate contact tracer will never ask for money, social security numbers, or personal financial information, or your immigration status.
With the possibility of a new round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP’s), know that the IRS will not ask you to verify your social security number or bank account number You will never have to pay a fee to get your payment. These are all scams. Only use the https://irs.gov/coronavirus website to share information related to your EIP.
Be leery of ads for COVID testing kits – most advertised kits are not approved by the FDA.
In an emergency, would your family or trusted friend know who to contact? Your bank? Your financial adviser? Your insurance company?
Free resources from K-State Research and Extension are available online for downloading and printing, including https://bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF685.pdf, which can help anyone gather important information in one place. That information can be kept in a safety deposit box or other secure location and can be invaluable in emergencies.
The form includes space for family members’ names, birthdates and more, plus contact information space for key advisers, such as attorney, executor, doctor, religious adviser, insurance agents, and banker. It can also help gather basic information about vehicles and other property and credit, bank and retirement accounts.
More information about this and other resources is available at K-State Research and Extension Post Rock District offices. Links to resources also may be found on the K-State Research and Extension COVID 19 page https://www.ksre.k-state.edu/.
One in five people have an error on at least one of their credit reports according to a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission. When is the last time you checked your free credit report? Check your credit from once a year to once a week. You can access your credit report from each credit reporting agency – Equifax, Experian, TransUnion@annualcreditreport.com. Be sure to check your credit and keep errors off your account. Especially if you are postponing bills, using more credit than usual, applying for loans.
The 5 C’s are a great starting point to assist people who are struggling to balance income and expenses in economic good times or bad such as trying to reduce debt, establish an emergency fund, save for retirement, or reach a personal financial goal.
Control – As much of the situation as you can. Recognize that it is natural to feel the effects of stress. Developing and following a plan can reduce stress and help you maintain control of your financial position.
Communicate – Talk with family members about available income and resources. Decide what the family needs now, soon and in a few months. Then make a plan together.
Be Prepared to Change – To make it through the hard times, look for ways to reduce expenses, use the things you have longer, swap items with others, trade services.
Claim benefits that are due to you – Apply for unemployment, SNAP, utility assistance, and local resources as soon as possible.
Confer with creditors – Don’t ignore the situation. If you can’t make credit payments contact creditors and work out realistic payment schedules.
If you are needing assistance, here is a list or state resources/agencies that may be of help to you and the service that they provide.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) This program will provide nutrition benefits to supplement the food budget of low-income individuals and families helping them afford the food they need to eat. This website has links at the top of the page to apply for assistance. http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/ees/pages/food/foodassistance.aspx
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Healthy foods and services to low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, new moms, and kids under age 5. Find out how to apply by using this website http://www.kansaswic.org/families.
Summer Food Service Program, provides free nutritious meals and snacks to all children 18 years old and under at approved summer food service program sites when school is not in session.
Senior Nutrition and Resources, provides prepared meals for eligible seniors through various settings such as congregate meal sites, home delivery or grab and go locations. Contact area agency on aging for a site near you.
Temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), monthly financial support to qualifying low-income families with children to help them pay for basic needs, including utilities, diapers and transportation. https://cssp.kees.ks.gov/apspssp/sspNonMed.portal
Hero Relief Fund provides childcare subsidies for essential workers who have countable gross income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. http://ksherorelief.com/
Evictions or Foreclosure Protection, Executive Order 20-10 issued by Governor Kelly, temporarily prohibiting certain foreclosures and evictions in Kansas due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This protection extends until May 1, 2020 or until the statewide State of Disaster Emergency expires, whichever is earlier.