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FBI Warns Of Scams About COVID And Fires


Never doubt the capacity of the criminal mind to make a bad situation worse. We were already dealing with COVID-19 and all that is scary about that. Then the fires came and turned life upside-down for many people.

Now we also have to be on guard for people trying to use our fears to scam us out of money. Did you get a call from a contact tracer? Were they really working for your local health department? Can the caller really help you with fire recovery?

These are the questions the FBI office in Portland urges us to consider before parting with personal information. Beth Anne Steele, a public affairs officer for the Portland office, runs down the list of scams and how to defend against them.

The short list:

  • Take a breath. Emotions run high in disaster, so don't accept a contact or click on a link in an email without thinking about it first.
  • Stick with familiar charities. If you haven't heard of it, it could be bogus. If you want to give, research the charity outside of any contacts you've received.
  • If people request social security numbers or bank account information, stop.
  • Avoid charities that insist upon cash or gift cards or virtual currency or wire transfers.
  • Designate where you want the money to go; reputable charities often have multiple funds for specific programs.
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The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily news program focused on issues, people and events across Southern Oregon and Northern California. Angela Decker is the program's senior producer, Charlie Zimmermann is the assistant producer, and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.