They never rest and they have no heart. Yes, scammers are using the pandemic to their advantage. But you can be on alert and avoid the scams. Here are a couple government impostor scams using COVID-19 that the FTC Consumer Information branch has seen already.
If someone calls to offer things like a “COVID-19 kit,” “Coronavirus package,” or Medicare benefits related to the virus its most likely not real. Remember, government agencies will not call you without first sending a letter alerting you that they need to get in touch with you. Especially if anyone calls you and then asks you to verify personal information like your bank account, Social Security, or Medicare numbers – don’t do it! If you get a call from someone who says they’re a Medicare representative and they ask for this information, hang up. It’s a scam, not Medicare calling. You can report the call to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Relief payment messages from “government agencies”
It’s not just phone calls or emails, scammers now will text your cell phone and pose as any number of government agencies – Social Security Administration, IRS, Census, USCIS and the FDIC. These fake government messages might say that you’re approved for money, can get quick relief payments, or get cash grants due to the Coronavirus. Scammers might also promise you small business loans, or send a (phishing) alert that a check is ready to be picked up. These are all scams, and none of those messages come from a government agency.
What you can do to see if it is a scam:
- Don’t feel pressured. If someone is pressuring you to give personal information or agree to something, it is a scam. There is nothing so urgent that it can’t wait five minutes for you to do a little research.
- Ask for a name of the person calling, their ID, and the department they are calling from. Most likely they will not provide this information or just hang up. Then you know for sure it was a scam.
- If you get a call tell them you will call them back. Then you go and look up the number of the agency online. If you call back they should have a record of the call to you, if they don’t, for sure it was a scam.
- Be aware of current scams by visiting the FTC’s ftc.gov/imposters, the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker, Consumer Affairs also keeps a running list of current scams, to name a few.
- Use your network of people. Ask your friends and associates if they have heard of the offer or scheme and ask what they think.