As the world is faced with a pandemic, most of us have come together (at least virtually!) to support each other and our communities. Unfortunately, a wide-scale crises brings out those seeking to exploit the situation for their own gain. The scams and tactics are not new, but under a new guise of Covid-19 news, solutions and support. The primary scams include the following:
- offering COVID-19 vaccine, cure, air filters, testing
- fake coronavirus-related charity scams
- emails and calls pretending to be from a government office, especially IRS or SSA threatening change in benefits or arrest
- texts posing as Covid-19 alerts from local government or healthcare providers
- “person in need” scams -scammers pose as a grandchild or relative reaching out for help
- banking and financial services scams (bank deposit seizures, investment opportunities, student loan threats)
- price gouging -selling essential goods at excessive prices
The first step to protecting yourself from scams is awareness. Be overly cautious of emails, texts, apps, advertisements or social media posts that may be selling fake products or information about emerging coronavirus cases. Pause and examine who is actually sending the text or email, only respond if you can verify it is a person you know or authentic business. Research and verify before you donate (find tips at ftc.gov/charity). Learn to recognize numbers, emails and texts that may be spoofs, and avoid engaging scam callers by not answering the phone or promptly hanging up.
Report scams to ftc.gov/complaint . The Eldercare Locator , a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, can connect older adults and their families to services. You can also call 1-800-677-1116. In Oregon, you can file complaints and learn of the latest scams at the Oregon Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection page or call their hotline at 1-877-877-9392.
For more information about how to prevent, recognize, and report fraud and scams by visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Find updates on coronavirus-related scams on ftc.gov/coronavirus.
For information on protecting your finances, see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s list of resources and guides.
To learn about price gouging see Oregon Department of Justice guide on price gouging. Report price gouging to Oregon’s DOJ hotline number 503-378-8442.
Stay Safe Online, a service of the National Cyber Security Alliance, provides a Covid-19 Security Resource Library.