The email sounds like a good deal, courtesy of your federal government.
Impressively, it’s no less than Lina Khan, chairperson of the Federal Trade Commission, wanting to send you coronavirus relief money you’re eligible for.
All the agency needs is some personal information — your name, address, birthdate, that sort of thing — to make it happen.
Except that’s not Khan, and no relief funds await you. It’s just the latest attempt to scam Americans using the pandemic as cheese in the trap.
“The FTC is not distributing coronavirus economic stimulus or relief money to people,” the agency said in a recent warning to consumers. “The email is a scam. Don’t reply.”
Authorities are warning of this latest attempt at phishing — sending fake emails that appear to be be from trusted companies, celebrities or authority figures — with a pandemic twist.
Scammers, who have tried come-ons from free genetic test kits to puppies, can use any personal details they con out of you to try to steal your identity. Bank or password information can be used for outright theft. Even just clicking a link in an email can risk getting malicious software on your device.
There’s a wink-and-nod twist to this latest con: The scammers are pretending to be the Federal Trade Commission — an agency charged with protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices.
“We have seen so many new scams during the pandemic, but this latest trick is extremely flagrant,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a consumer alert this week. “The best way to beat this scam is to immediately send these messages directly to the FTC and be sure to never reply or click on any links in the email.”
Experts say never give out personal information to someone you don’t know, and don’t trust email addresses or caller ID numbers even if they look legitimate. (Scammers have figured out how to make them appear to be on the up-and-up.) When in doubt, look up the phone number or email of the agency or company in question online, and contact them directly.
You can report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.