As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact the United States, scammers have seized the opportunity to prey on consumers. The Federal Communications Commission has been notified of the following scams:
- Fake cures: Fraudsters are advertising fake cures, fake vaccines, and so-called “immunity” pills, and including wild claims about the products’ healing powers with no scientific or medical basis.
- Fake testing: Fraudsters are selling fake at-home testing kits or going door-to-door performing fraudulent tests in exchange for money.
- Health care frauds: Fraudsters are offering free (and phony) coronavirus testing to obtain Medicare or other healthcare insurance information, which they use to submit false claims for benefits.
- Fake protection and supplies: Fraudsters are advertising fake or un-tested protective equipment (including respirator masks) through websites, social media, and robocalls. The fraudsters have no real equipment to sell, or provide equipment that has not been proven to work for its advertised purpose. In some cases, you place an order, but you never get your shipment.
- Fake services: Fraudsters advertise a service,such as HVAC duct cleaning, as a way to "protect" your home and family form the virus.
- Phishing: Fraudsters are posing as representatives from well-known institutions, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in order to trick victims into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.
- Fake health care providers: Fraudsters pose as doctors or hospital employees and contact individuals via phone or email. They make false claims that they treated a relative or friend for coronavirus and demand money for the claimed treatment.
- Identity theft: Fraudsters are using social media to fraudulently seek donations or provide stimulus funds if the victim provides a bank account number or other personal identifying information. The fraudsters use the information entered by the victim to impersonate the victim and steal money from the victim’s bank account.
- Fake COVID-19 relief programs: Fraudster claim to offer work-from-home opportunities, student loan repayment plans, and debt consolidation offers. Small businesses are also getting scam calls about virus-related funding or loans and online listing verification.
- Securities fraud: Fraudsters are promoting securities in publicly traded companies that they falsely claim have discovered the cure for coronavirus.
- Fake charities: Fraudsters are soliciting donations for charities to allegedly benefit people affected by the virus and pocketing the money for themselves.
Consider the following tips to help you protect yourself from scams, including coronavirus scams:
- 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 often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
- Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
- Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating. Click here to learn more about charity scams.
- Learn more about about phishing attacks here.