The Covid-19 aid programmes seem to have scammers working overtime, with the authorities and many banks posting continuous reminders to warn the public about con artists trying to get your financial assistance into their accounts.
There are many scams out there and some of the common ones to look out for during this time are:
- Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) SMS scam
LHDN has warned that fake text messages are being sent from personal phone numbers telling the public they can get BPN and asking for their banking details to receive the payment. LHDN, which is responsible for BPN, said that they only send text messages from the numbers 62000 or 63833 and never ask for personal details through text messages.
- EPF i-Lestari scam
You are now allowed to withdraw from your EPF Account 2 under the i-Lestari programme. But beware, the website semakonline.com to apply for withdrawals is fake. EPF advises members to only refer to their official website, https://www.kwsp.gov.my/, or their dedicated i-Lestari website, https://ilestari.kwsp.gov.my/.
- People claiming to be selling face masks and hand sanitizers
Exploiting Covid-19 fears, scammers are pretending to sell these items but disappear with your money without delivering the goods. We advise you not to entertain these sellers and stick to buying the items at recognised physical or online stores.
- Phishing for personal information
As we all spend more time working from home on our computers, there have been many more phishing scams. In these scams, someone pretending to be from a legit company or organisation tries to get your personal information over the phone. A characteristic of these phishing calls is that it tends to be an automated call. Remember, most official calls from banks or public offices would not be automated phone calls. Be especially cautious if you’re asked for your personal banking or credit card information. Hang up the phone and call your bank to check on these “official calls”.
- Using the coronavirus to spread computer viruses
These are scam emails pretending to give important information about Covid-19. The emails usually use clickbait in the subject line to trick people into opening the email and downloading dangerous files disguised as useful links. These files usually copy, delete or edit private information on your computer once they’re opened or downloaded.
Top tips to protect yourself from scams
- Stranger danger! Be extra careful when approached by a person or ‘company’ selling something you haven’t ordered. You should be especially suspicious of any requests for money upfront.
- Don’t click links in emails/texts. It’s also important to remember not to call the phone numbers or click on links in emails or text messages. If you’re unsure if the message is real, try and search for the phone number or website of the organisation and ask them yourself.
- Check the URL or email address. Look at the website address, or the full email address of the sender. Although the sender’s “name” may appear real, it’s harder for scammers to hide behind email addresses. For example, you may see Visa* appear as the sender’s name, but their email address is [email protected], which doesn’t look like a trusted organisation at all!
- Look out for the “rush”. Are you being panicked into acting quickly before an offer runs out? Or have you been told your money isn’t in a safe place and you need to move it to another account as soon as possible? Scammers do this to make you worried so that you’ll be encouraged to take up their con. Keep your cool and don’t let yourself be forced into doing something you shouldn’t!
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Finally, if you’re offered a super cheap product, free advice or promised fast cash, it’s probably a scam. Let’s face it, it’s rare to get something without giving something in return, so don’t fall into the trap!
If you think you’ve been scammed and need help, first contact your bank or the relevant company like LHDN or EPF and then make a police report. Another report may also have to be made to Bank Negara. Stay safe out there, everyone!