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Coronavirus and Scams: 5 Tips for Avoiding Scammers

Published: 03/26/2020

It is truly an interesting time for all of us as we navigate our way through the Coronavirus situation in America.  From balancing immediate concerns about health, wellness, safety and how to help “flatten the curve”, to managing anxiety related to jobs, investments, and just general daily life.  

For many these are times that are hard to imagine, and for some individuals, time that can make you a bit more vulnerable.   It might be hard to believe, but new scams are popping up throughout the country related to the Coronavirus.  Some are related to helping victims, some are bogus relief funds, investment related, new cures and even door to door hustles.  The scammer goal is always the same, to get their hands on sensitive information and your money.

We had a chance to catch up with Jeff Garbers, State Bank Financial, Vice President of Security, to get his input on how people can protect themselves from scams and what to look for during the current times.  

“It isn’t just brought on by situations like the Coronavirus,” said Garbers. “Unfortunately, it is a constant battle and one that to really fight right requires all of us to stay diligent and on the lookout for these things.” Garbers has been with State Bank Financial for 39 years and said the internet and web have definitely expanded the way scammers work.  

The scammer will collect valuable data from you, sometimes through online relationships, or phishing, and sometimes a situation in a community opens the opportunity to get information from you.  Floods, tornado, or in this case the Coronavirus, said Garbers. “We have had scammers tell people they are in the military, working on an oil rig, or even a doctor with an international organization or they may say they are part of response team when there is a crisis. Overall, they are working to build credibility and trust.”  He also said to remember these criminals are pretty clever and work hard to fool people every day. 

Garbers went on to point out some simple tips and reminders that can help you stay safer when it comes to avoiding scams.  

1. Be aware that people are trying to do this.  
Even with all that is going on, be aware that this is happening.  “They are really good at seeming legit, and many times, an artful scammer works to build trust first before they ask for money,” said Garbers.  If you think it is suspicious, it probably is.   If you think you are being scammed, Garber reminds you report it to the FTC at  He also added you should report it to the website or app where you met the scammer.

2. Remember they like to get the funds quickly and remain anonymous.  
Garbers said that the scammers typically ask for you to pay:
a. By wiring the money (if you are asked to take funds out of the Bank and take them to Western Union you are getting scammed)
b. Send reloadable cards like MoneyPak or gift cards from vendors like Amazon, Google, or iTunes.
Garbers went on to say that most transactions are almost impossible to reverse and the 
scammer can use the money or gift card quickly. 

3. Scammers may ask you to help them.
Sometimes they don’t ask for money, but ask you to pay a bill, or a fee, buy them something like. 
a. Pay for a plan ticket or travel
b. Pay for a surgery or medical expenses 
c. Help with travel cost, visas, or other official documents 
d. Pay a car repair, or for tires, etc. 

4. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Garbers described that sometimes the scammer is telling you they are going to send you money.  “What account should I send that to?” is the setup question and we have had customers fall for this, and instead of getting funds, they had their pockets picked.”   He said a rule of thumb is common sense.  “If it sounds too good to be true that’s your first sign and chances are it is not true, and you are getting scammed”. 

5. NEVER send money (cash) or give them PIN numbers, account numbers or personal ID.
No matter what they say, how much they plead or even threaten.  “When you say ‘no’ get ready,” said Garbers. “I have intervened and spoken with Scammers and when they get denied what they are after the fireworks fly,” said Garbers.  “But no matter what they say, don’t give in, if they are truly a friend they will understand.” 

Garbers went on to say that part of what makes it easy for the scammers is that most people want to help people.  “They know, and actually exploit our generosity, and it’s hard sometimes to not get pulled into their story. But you really have to step back and think about it logically.”

State Bank Financial has tools that can help you stay safer and our knowledgeable and experience staff can give you more information. 

If you have questions or want to learn more, please contact State Bank Financial at
1.800.880.7151 and select the department that can address your question or concern:

General Information and Branch Team:  Press 2
Business Banking:    Press 3
Online and Mobile Banking:    Press 4
Company Directory:     Press 9

Be safe and be well!

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