There has been an explosion of scams including robocalls, texts, and emails with people posing as government officials or businesses offering refunds for missed vacations or virus-testing kits. Financial regulators and consumer groups are warning people about scams disguised as social security, medical, charity, and stimulus check information.
It is disheartening knowing that there are people out there trying to scam our vulnerable communities during this public health crisis, but by raising this issue and informing our relatives and friends we can prevent them from being successful. Southern Arizonans should be mindful about where we get our information and vigilant about fact-checking, refuse to give personal information to sites and sources you don’t know.
Here are some tips to help you avoid Coronavirus Scams:
- Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
- Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state, and local government agencies.
- Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
- Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home through a number of platforms:
- Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at email@example.com
- Report to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov – If you are dealing with a cyber scam, submit your complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, here.
- ConsumerResources.org is a hub of consumer protection information and resources from state and territory attorneys general