Americans have lost about $106 million to fraud related to COVID-19 so far this year, the Federal Trade Commission warned on Tuesday. That prompted the commission to issue an alert for consumers to be cautious about solicitations asking them to pay for access to certain financial assistance, such as stimulus checks, job opportunities, and mortgages.
The FTC warns that some scammers are duping homeowners to make them believe they need to pay up front for mortgage help. “It’s illegal for companies to charge you before they help you with your mortgage—but that doesn’t stop scammers from trying,” the FTC warns.
Homeowners who fall behind on mortgage payments should speak with their mortgage servicer to discuss their options. Those struggling to make their mortgage or rent, who may face a foreclosure or eviction, may want to consult with a legal services organization.
Stimulus checks have been another growing area of fraud, the FTC warns. Congress is debating issuing more stimulus checks, which could open the door to more fraud. Just like last time, if there is another stimulus payment, you won’t have to pay to get it, the FTC says. “Nobody will call to ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number,” to access your payment, the FTC reports.
Also, real estate professionals should continue to remain vigilant against wire fraud scams in real estate transactions and warn their clients, particularly as more areas of a transaction are conducted remotely. Down payment scams and others that target different points of a real estate transaction can put your clients at risk. Access resources from the National Association of REALTORS® on how to keep you and your clients safe from wire fraud.