When in crisis, we’re often at our most vulnerable. It’s important to be aware of possible scams related to the COVID-19 virus. Scammers are preying on the elderly, the vulnerable and the general public during this pandemic.
People have reported phone calls, text messages, emails and door-to-door scams about COVID-19 testing kits, vaccines and medical supplies, bogus cures, health insurance and donating to fraudulent charities.
Some ways you can protect yourself:
Do not open your door to anyone you don’t know. Legitimate medical professionals will not come to your door to test you or vaccinate you for COVID-19. There are no cures and no current vaccines that will treat the coronavirus. People should take advice about their own health, including testing and treatment related to COVID-19 only from their healthcare professional or public-health professional.
Do not respond to calls, text messages or emails from unknown numbers or unsolicited organizations. Scammers have the ability to make an email look almost identical to an official government email. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments within unsolicited emails.
Use trusted sources for up-to-date information and facts about COVID-19 (i.e. CDC - Centers for Disease Control, WHO – World Health Organization or the MN Department of Health)
Scammers often “spoof” phone numbers so it appears that an incoming call is a local number, from a company or government agency. Never share personal or financial information over the phone, through e-mail or by text messages; this includes your social security number, bank account, credit card numbers, tax information and passwords.
Do not believe anyone promising to give you anything if you pay them “a small fee first”. Scammers often ask for you to send money via a money wire transfer or to put money on gift cards.
Do your research before you make a donation to any organization claiming to be collecting money for COVID victims/research/health care facilities or supplies. Many of these donations are going to scammers and not the actual organizations or foundations.
COVID-19 scams can be reported by calling 911. You can also make a report to any of the following agencies;
Minnesota Attorney General’s Office = https://www.ag.state.mn.us or call 800-657-3787
Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) = www.ic3.gov
Dept. of Justice National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline 866-720-5721 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fraud involving payment of federal taxes should be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration = https://home.treasury.gov/coronavirus
Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker = https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker or you can call 651-699-1111