How to Avoid the “Financial Hardship Department” Email Scam

March 16, 2023
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Attorney General of Oregon, Ellen RosenblumHave you received an email from the “Financial Hardship Department” lately?

The Financial Hardship Department email is a scam with one goal – to infect your device with malware and steal your personal and financial information.

The email claims to be from a government agency or organization that offers financial assistance to those in need. The email says you have been approved for financial support and to call a phone number to finish enrolling in the program. However, it is all fake. The scammer merely wants to steal your personal and financial information.

Here is what a Financial Hardship Department scam message looks like:

Hi it’s Shela with the Financial Assistance Department. We tried reaching you at your home and did not hear back … I’m not sure if you’ve spoken to an assigned agent yet, but I do see that you’re pre-approved for our Hardship Program, so what I’m going to do is keep this in a pending status. And If you have about five minutes today give me a call so we can go over the details. My phone number is: 8‎55-‎45‎5-51‎77, Thank You, Shela Montalbano

Legitimate financial institutions and government agencies do not ask for personal information over the phone, through email or via text message, especially without verifying the identity of the person they are speaking with. If you receive a phone call, email, or text message like the Financial Hardship Department scam:

  1. Do not reply to the email or call the phone number provided in the message.
  2. Do not click on any links or download any attachments provided in the email. They may contain malware or viruses that can harm your device.
  3. Do not provide any personal information, such as your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card information.

If you have already responded to the scam email or provided personal information to the scammers, contact your bank or credit card company immediately to report any suspicious activity and protect your accounts. You may also want to consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your accounts to prevent any unauthorized access. And, as always, file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice online at or by calling 1-877-877-9392.