The coronavirus pandemic brought out the best in many people. Customers tipped extra when picking up take-out orders to help restaurants that saw a drop in revenue. People made donations to food banks to help those who had lost their jobs. And others shopped for elderly neighbors and people most at risk of having adverse effects from Covid-19. But unfortunately, not everyone had the same intentions. Some people took advantage of the situation to scam consumers of all ages. As you continue to deal with the effects of Covid-19, be on the lookout for related scams.
STIMULUS CHECK SCAMS
The Federal Trade Commission warned consumers that you don't have to pay to get your stimulus check. Nor will the IRS ask you to deposit your check and then send some money back due to a miscalculation.
Note that the IRS will not call, email, or text you. The IRS will not ask for your bank username and password—ever—or even call you for your account or social security number. Your cell phone may ring, and the caller ID may indicate it's the government calling. However, don't be fooled, scammers have gotten more sophisticated. If you are providing the IRS information online, always make sure that you are on the correct website: www.irs.gov. And if you receive a message asking you to call the IRS, go to the IRS website and look up the phone number yourself.
Donate to organizations with which you have a relationship. Always navigate yourself directly to the charity's website. Beware of phishing attempts such as emails from scammers that appear to be from a real charity. You can sometimes spot these attempts by noting irregularities with the sender email address or by finding typos in the email body. Legitimate charities also do not demand donations in cash, by gift card, or by wire transfer.
COVID-19 TEST SCAMS
AARP reports that the FBI is investigating several fake test sites across various states. If you want to be tested, call your doctor's office or check a government website for test site locations. Test sites that require large upfront cash payments or social security cards for identity verification are likely illegitimate, even if apparent testing is occurring.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for Covid-19. Aside from social distancing and mask-wearing, there are also no preventive measures presently recommended. Do not purchase anything sold with the promise of curing or preventing Covid-19. The Food and Drug Administration has sent over 70 letters to companies advertising fake Covid-19 therapies such as essential oils, salts, teas, herbs, skin sprays, CBD products, patches, and more. In the best-case scenario, you'll just be wasting your money on something that won't live up to its advertising. In the worst-case scenario, you could be consuming dangerous substances, especially in the case of supposed blood products from recovered patients.
Always review your bank and credit card statements monthly to scan for charges you don't recognize. Review the detail of medical bills for the same reason. If you think you have been scammed, seek assistance from your local police.