The Montana Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force is warning Montanans to watch out for increased risk of scams and fraud with the COVID-19 pandemic, stock market turbulence, job losses, and more all happening simultaneously.

Montanans should be especially vigilant over the coming weeks and months, and report suspicious activity and suspected scams or fraud immediately.

The Senior Financial Exploitation Task Force was created in 2019 to coordinate resources across multiple organizations, state, and federal jurisdictions to protect seniors and other vulnerable Montanans from fraud and exploitation.

“We created the Task Force to bring all our resources together and ensure financial exploitation and fraud are not tolerated in Montana,” said State Auditor Matt Rosendale. “Right now, scammers are looking for ways to use the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of the public. Be vigilant, don’t make rushed decisions, and remember: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re not sure about an investment offer, or something seems suspicious, report it to us immediately, and don’t give out your personal or financial information.”

Fraudulent schemes can take many forms during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

• Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online

• Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

• Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations

• Fake investment opportunities, Ponzi schemes, and securities fraud

• Unsolicited, fraudulent offers of mortgage relief, advance fee scams, and fake banking services

• Any calls stating that the caller needs banking information in order to deposit stimulus checks

• Any unsolicited contact asking for personal or financial information online or over the phone

• Any communication where you don’t recognize the sender, even if it supposedly from a government agency, asking you to click on a link

Questions or concerns about potentially fraudulent activity?

Contact: Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) at 1-800-481-6896 or dojmt.gov/consumer

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