Scammers are inventing new schemes as well as repurposing old ones. Be alert as you go about your covid daily lives.
This video offers an overview of what to watch for:
Here are more details on avoiding coronavirus scams:
Covid-19 vaccine scams
As the covid-19 vaccine is rolled out throughout the country, it’s important to be on the lookout for scams.
Beware of scams offering early access to vaccines for a fee.
Don’t share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising to get you the vaccine for a fee. Also, keep in mind that Medicare covers the cost of the covid-19 vaccine. Covid-19 vaccines are also free to others throughout the country, although providers may charge an administration fee.
For the latest vaccine updates, check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Covid-19 cure, air filters, and testing scams
The Federal Trade Commission is warning about an increasing number of scams related to test kits, cures, or treatments and air filter systems designed to remove covid-19 from the air in your home.
If you receive a phone call, email, text message, or letter with claims to sell you any of these items, it’s a scam.
Testing is available through local and state governments or through your medical providers.
Fake coronavirus-related charity scams
Be careful about any charity calling you asking for donations. And be wary if you get a call following up on a donation pledge that you don’t remember making – it could be a scam.
If you are able to help financially, visit the website of the organization of your choice to make sure your money is going to the right place.
“Person in need” scams
Scammers could use the circumstances of the coronavirus to pose as a grandchild, relative, or friend. They claim to be ill, stranded in another state or foreign country, or in trouble and ask you to send money. They may ask you to send cash by mail or buy gift cards.
These scammers often beg you keep it a secret and act fast before you ask questions.
Hang up and call your grandchild or friend’s phone number to see if the story is true. You could also call a different friend or relative. Don’t send money unless you’re sure it’s the real person who contacted you.
Scams targeting Social Security benefits
While local Social Security Administration or SSA offices are closed to the public due to covid-19, SSA won’t suspend or decrease Social Security benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments due to the pandemic.
Scammers may mislead people into believing they need to provide personal information or pay by gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or mail cash to keep getting regular benefit payments during the pandemic.
Any communication that says SSA will suspend or decrease your benefits due to covid-19 is a scam, whether you receive it by letter, text, email, or phone call.
Report Social Security scams to the SSA Inspector General at oig.ssa.gov.
Covid-19 government imposter scams
Many people are following guidance from federal, state, and local governments during the covid-19 pandemic. Some scammers are pretending to be affiliated with the government to steal your money.
- The government will never call, text, or contact you on social media saying you owe money, or offering help to get your financial stimulus payment faster. If you get a message from someone claiming to be from a government agency through social media, it’s a scam. Report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
- If you are eligible and haven’t yet received your stimulus payment yet, visit gov and follow the directions. See the FTC’s information on spotting scams related to the EIP.
- You should visit government websites directly for trustworthy information. Don’t click on links in an email or text message. Scammers often send fake links to websites that look like they’re from the government. Instead of clicking on links in messages, open up a new window and search for the name of the government agency.
- To get the most up-to-date information on the pandemic, visit gov.
- You should say “no” to anyone claiming to be from a government agency asking for cash, gift cards, wire transfer, cryptocurrency, or personal and financial information, whether they contact you by phone, texts email, or by showing up in person. Don’t share your Social Security, Medicare ID, driver’s license, bank account, or credit card numbers.
Unemployment benefits scams
Scammers may try to use your personal information to claim unemployment benefits. Some people have reported receiving prepaid cards in the mail with unemployment benefits that they didn’t apply for. Others have reported suspicious transactions and deposits in their bank accounts involving unemployment benefits.
Once you receive the funds, a scammer may contact you, pretend to be from the government, and tell you the benefits were deposited by mistake. They will then ask you to send them the money.
If you receive an unexpected prepaid card for unemployment benefits or see an unexpected deposit from your state in your bank account, report it right away to your state unemployment insurance office and your bank or credit union.
If you think you’ve been the victim of identity theft, report the incident to your local police and the Federal Trade Commission.