Every newsworthy event becomes a hook for scammers who want to get our money or our personal information, and scammers have eagerly taken advantage of the confusion, concern and even panic surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The scams being put forth are similar to past frauds, but with a Coronavirus spin.

Scammers may approach potential victims via telephone, text or email, or even in person. The specifics of the scams are unique to the pandemic, but underneath the Coronavirus sheep’s clothing the scams themselves are the same wolves we have seen for many years.

Some of the most common COVID-19 scams include:

  • Telephone scams telling Medicare recipients they qualify for testing and asking for their Social
    Security Number and other personal information
  • Scammers asking for donations to fake charities
  • Scams related to potential government payments to businesses and consumers

The Identity Theft Resource Center offers these tips to avoid common COVID-19 scams:

  • Go to the source. If you are unsure if something is legitimate, go directly to the company or agency that would be responsible.  Do not rely on the contact information in the communication you received.
  • An email or phone call asking for a Social Security number, driver’s license number, credit card number or bank account information is probably from a scammer.
  • Social media messages claiming to be from the government for anything regarding COVID-19 are likely scams. Report it to the social media platform and block the sender. The government does not contact individuals through social media.
  • COVID-19 phone scams are running rampant, promoting everything from COVID-19 testing to government benefits to bogus “cures” for the virus. Don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers and do not return calls from voicemails unless you are certain of the caller’s identity. If you are not certain if a call is legitimate, look up the actual number for the alleged caller and call them back.

Keep your wits about you and review these tips as needed to help ensure you do not fall prey to the latest iterations of scams.