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Avoiding Coronavirus Scams
November 10, 2020 by Hunter Swanson
As a community, we have made many necessary adjustments to our daily lives due to the Coronavirus. From wearing masks in public to working from home, we have done what we can to help stop the spread of this virus.
Unfortunately, there are a few people not well intentioned. Scam artists take advantage of difficult times in our lives, and now is no different. In order to keep you and your finances safe, here are six Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommendations to help avoid Coronavirus scams.
1. Know the difference between a real contact tracer and a scammer
- Legitimate tracers need health information, not money or personal financial information
- Contact tracing doesn’t require your bank account or credit card number
- Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Social Security number
- Your immigration status doesn’t matter for contact tracing, so real tracers won’t ask
2. Don’t respond to texts, emails, or calls about checks from the government
- Only use irs.gov/coronavirus to submit information to the IRS – and never in response to a call, text, or email
- The IRS won’t contact you by phone, email, text message, or social media with information about your stimulus payment, or to ask you for your Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number
- You don’t have to pay to get your stimulus money
- The IRS won’t tell you to deposit your stimulus check then send them money back because they paid you more than they owed you
3. Ignore offers for vaccinations and home test kits
- Scammers are selling products to treat or prevent COVID-19 without proof that they work
- Be wary of ads as well since most test kits being advertised have not been approved by the FDA
4. Don’t answer or immediately hang up on robocalls
- Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes
5. Watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO
- Use sites like coronavirus.gov and usa.gov/coronavirus to get information
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know
6. Be careful with donations
- Never donate in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money
- Most reputable organizations will take credit cards or checks
These times are difficult enough without scam artists trying to deceive you into giving them your money or information. Use these six FTC recommendations to help avoid Coronavirus scams and keep yourself safe. For more information on this topic and others from the Federal Trade Commission, please visit consumer.ftc.gov.