On March 18, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) warned that amidst the anxiety surrounding COVID-19, there has been increased fraudulent activity by imposters pretending to be FDIC representatives in order to access personal account information. The scams involve a range of communication means including emails, phone calls, letters, text messages, faxes, and social media.

According to newspaper reports, because many banks have shortened branch hours or are pushing consumers to use online banking exclusively, more Americans are withdrawing cash from ATMs. Fraudsters pose as FDIC representatives and falsely tell consumers that banks are limiting access to deposits or that there are security issues with bank deposits. In the process, these fraudsters solicit personal information.

In its statement, the FDIC reassured the public that since 1993, “no depositor has ever lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds,” and that “the FDIC insures up to $250,000 per depositor per FDIC-insured bank.” Further, it explained that even though some banks have adjusted their hours to comply with CDC guidance on physical distancing, customers’ access to their deposits remain safe in FDIC-insured banks. Finally, the FDIC advised that it does not send unsolicited correspondence asking for money or sensitive personal information such as bank account information, credit and debit card numbers, social security numbers, or passwords.

The U.S. Treasury Department also warns of increased fraudulent activity. The Treasury Department cautions the public that if you receive calls, emails, or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, tax, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. These are scams. Please contact the FBI at www.ic3.gov to report fraudulent activity and assist the government in stopping this activity.

Stafford Rosenbaum is monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely. We will continue to provide legal updates related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  If you have any questions or require assistance, contact us at email@staffordlaw.com or 1.608.256.0226.

Please stay healthy and informed.

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