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How can I protect myself or educate my elderly parents against fraud or scams?

Scammers may attempt to use your concerns related to COVID-19 to get personal information from you or to gain access to your accounts. Beware of fraudulent websites, phone calls, emails, and text messages claiming to offer "important COVID-19 information" or "help." Protect your financial and personal information. Never give out your social security number, bank account number, credit card number, or other personal information. You should never provide any bank account details, credit card numbers, or other personal information over the phone unless you originated the contact with the other party and you know that the entity is reputable. Note: Government agencies will never call you to request your personal information.

You should decline requests to cash a check for someone in exchange for a fee. Even if the bank provides you with immediate credit, the check could be fraudulent. When a check is returned as fraudulent, the money is removed from your account. The CFPB publication Money Smart for Older Adults Resource Guide (PDF) provides valuable information.

The Federal Trade Commission has tips to protect yourself from possible COVID-19-related scams. Report a matter of fraud or scam to the U.S. Department of the Treasury Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline at (800) 359-3898, option #6.

Last Reviewed: October 2020

Please note: The terms "bank" and "banks" used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on HelpWithMyBank.gov should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.

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