Beware of Coronavirus Scammers
It seems that whenever there is a crisis, scammers are quick to follow. Unfortunately, today’s coronavirus pandemic is no different.
The Ohio Department of Health, Attorney General Dave Yost, and Ohio Department of Commerce Director Sherry Maxfield want you to be aware of the following recent scams and tips:
- Be cautious of emails claiming to be from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offering special advice about COVID-19. Reliable information from the CDC can be found at coronavirus.gov or from the Ohio Department of Health at coronavirus.ohio.gov.
- Ignore advertisements promoting cures for COVID-19. There currently is no cure for COVID-19.
- Refrain from investing in businesses advertising products, services, or cures for COVID-19. Scammers typically use the market downturn to scare investors.
- Research nonprofit organizations and crowdfunding campaigns before donating. Avoid groups that pressure you into donating. Never donate via cash, gift cards, wire transfer, or prepaid money card. These are the preferred payment methods of scammers. A database of registered charities is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
- Be wary of anyone going door to door offering coronavirus testing or temperature readings and/or requesting personal information. Never let strangers into your home.
- Beware of emails and other attempts to “phish” for your personal, financial, and/or medical information. If the source claims to be your bank or a government agency, confirm they are legitimate by calling the organization at a phone number you have verified.
- The government will not ask you to pay anything to receive your government stimulus check, nor will they ask for your Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card number. For information on government stimulus checks, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
- Avoid clicking on unknown links or pop-ups and never download a suspicious email attachment.
In addition, the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration warns of a new scam where victims have received letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to coronavirus-related office closures. Scammers then ask beneficiaries for personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments. Social Security will not suspend or discontinue benefits because offices are closed.
The Better Business Bureau is tracking scams related to the pandemic. To date, the BBB Scam Tracker reports that 161 coronavirus-related scams have been reported in the U.S.
For questions related to COVID-19, the most reliable source is the Ohio Department of Health. You can contact them at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634) or coronavirus.ohio.gov.