Scammers are trying to profit from COVID-19 (coronavirus)-related fears. Their attempts can come in any form: emails, postal mail, text messages, social media messages, phone calls and voicemails. According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers have lost $5.85 million for COVID-19 schemes, and that’s just what has been reported to the agency. The average median loss to these scams for each consumer is about $600.
Test Kit Scams: This scam says that the Coronavirus Response Act has made coronavirus testing more accessible and that you can receive a free testing kit delivered overnight to your home. COVID-19 test kits are not for sale.
Scam Threats to Treat Coronavirus: Scammers pose as healthcare providers claiming they are treating a relative for COVID-19 and demanding immediate payment for treatment or threaten legal action.
Student Loan Scams: Scammers are claiming that COVID-19 will have an impact on your student loans, urging you to contact a specific number or visit a website to determine your new payment. If you have questions about your loan, contact your financial institution.
Social Security Scams: This call claims to have “an order to suspend your socials immediately within 24 hours due to suspicious and fraudulent activities found on your socials.”
Delivery Scams: Fake businesses are claiming to deliver a wide range of sanitizers, hand soap, toilet papers and face masks to your door. There’s also an scam involving undelivered goods. Online sellers claim they have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies. You place an order, but you never get your shipment. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name — including scammers.
Check out the seller by searching online for the person or company’s name, phone number and email address, plus words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” If everything checks out, pay by credit card and keep a record of your transaction. If you’re concerned about the pricing of products in your area, contact your state consumer protection officials. For a complete list of state Attorneys General, visit naag.org.
HVAC for Coronavirus Scams: Scammers claim you can protect your loved ones from the coronavirus by paying $79 for their technicians to do a full air duct cleaning and sanitation.
Diabetic Test Kit Scams: Scammers claim that people with diabetes can qualify to get a free diabetic monitor and a complimentary testing kit for coronavirus.
Work From Home Scams: There’s a fake offer from Amazon going around, claiming open enrollment and the opportunity to make up to $400 in a day.
Stimulus Package Scams: Though many consumers will receive checks as part of the federal government response to the coronavirus, no one will call or text you to verify your personal information or bank account details in order to “release” the funds.
Charity Scams: Hackers will duplicate nonprofit websites or pretend to be with a legitimate charity and call for donations. If you want to donate, never do it from a telemarketer or a robocall. Instead, go directly to the charity and make your donation through it. Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.
Investment Scams: Watch out for imposters who develop schemes falsely purporting to raise capital for companies manufacturing surgical masks and gowns, producing ventilators, distributing small-molecule drugs and other preventative pharmaceuticals, or manufacturing vaccines and miracle cures.
Other scammers will seek to take advantage of concerns with the volatility in the securities markets to promote “safe” investments with “guaranteed returns” including investments tied to gold, silver and other commodities, oil and gas, and real estate.
Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious. Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone. Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
Scammers have technology that makes it appear they’re calling from a local phone number, a local business or even a law enforcement agency to trick you into answering or responding. Hang up, call the agency they claim to be from, and ask for the person who said they were calling you. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.