5 Tricky COVID Scams You Need to Watch Out For

Fortunately, government agencies like the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have released information to help consumers avoid these COVID scams.

Contact tracer scams

Real contact tracers are hugely important to coronavirus response. Trained individuals are tasked with reaching out to those people that an infected person has come into contact with so that they know to self-isolate and/or get tested themselves. Per the FTC, an authorized contact tracer may ask you for your name, details about your health, and information about your movements, so that they can continue tracing positive cases. If a contact tracer asks you for any kind of payment information, your social security number, or your immigration status (the FTC stresses that this is not of interest to tracers), then you should hang up immediately and file a complaint with the FTC. Also, do not click on any link or download emailed to you from a supposed contact tracer—it may be an invasive program that accesses your private information.

Sales of fraudulent or non-existent protective equipment

In late March, the Federal Bureau of the Investigation (FBI) released a warning about the fraudulent sale of personal protective equipment (PPE), as desperate civilians and healthcare providers attempted to stock up. Medical providers were cautioned to be suspicious of "unusual payment terms, last-minute price changes, last-minute excuses for delay in shipment," and "unexplained source of bulk supply," and to be wary of any vendors they had not worked with before. In addition, anyone claiming to have a product that can "prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19" should be avoided, as there are no such products on the market.

Testing scams

The FTC notes that there are no at-home COVID-19 test kits that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Do not purchase any product that claims to diagnose the coronavirus. In addition, the DOJ advises that you never give Medicare information over the phone to anyone calling to offer free COVID supplies or tests.

Stimulus scams

Per the DOJ, there have been many reports of apps, websites, mass emailers, and robocallers claiming to represent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and asking for personal information for access to stimulus funds. The IRS is not collecting information through any of these avenues.

"Be wary of calls claiming you received an overpayment of the stimulus money and demanding a 'refund' of the difference," the agency also says.

Charity scams

"Law enforcement has seen an increase in social media scams and telephone calls fraudulently seeking donations for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations requesting you to enter your bank account information," the DOJ says. These emails may also prompt you to click a link that may download malicious software to your device.

Link: Best Life Online

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