Consumer fraud on the rise during coronavirus pandemic

Published: May. 20, 2020 at 4:39 PM CDT
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As millions of Americans stay home and jump online, experts are noticing a recent spike in consumer fraud.

"Unfortunately, during these times, people are vulnerable," said Gina Caruana, Senior Vice President Retail Manager, Illinois Bank and Trust.

From shopping to bill pay, online debit card use is on the rise, leaving people at risk for cybercrime.

"Fraud is active and very common in today's world. It was common before the pandemic and it continues to be an issue as we go through the pandemic," said Caruana.

The Better Business Bureau says there has been a dramatic increase in the number of scams across the Stateline since the start of the pandemic.

"90% of our reports to our scam tracker have been COVID-related scams, ranging from pet scams, masks, you name it. Pretty much anything that can be done has been done," said Dennis Horton, BBB Rockford Regional Office Director.

While some may think they're being safe online, experts say no one is immune.

"As a person that has been working in a bank for as long as I have, over 20 years, it happened to me, so it could happen to anybody. Just be really diligent, making sure that you're watching things and making sure that you know what's going through your accounts," said Caruana.

"Scammers out there always appear when there is a disaster of any kind and the pandemic has simply opened the door to even more of that kind of activity," said Horton.

Both Caruana and Horton say paying attention to whom and where you send your money to is crucial. They recommend updating passwords on a regular basis and making sure you always have a secure Wi-Fi connection.