COVID-19 SCAM INFO
Criminals are taking advantage of the Coronavirus situation. Be extra vigilant in your dealings and protect yourself and your family, particularly the elderly, from scams like the following:
1. Scams Offering COVID-19 Vaccine, Cure, Air filters, Testing
There is an increasing number of scams related to vaccines, test kits, cures or treatments, and air filter systems designed to remove COVID-19 from the air in your home. There is no vaccine for this virus, and there is no cure. Testing is available through your local, state governments, but these tests are not delivered to your house and usually take place at designated sites, including hospitals. If you receive a phone call, email, text message, or letter with claims to sell you any of these items–it’s a scam.
2. Fake Coronavirus-Related Charity Scams
A fake charity scam is when a thief poses as a real charity or makes up the name of a charity that sounds real to get money from you to help coronavirus victims. Be careful about any charity calling you asking for donations. If you are able to help financially, visit the website of the organization of your choice to make sure your money is going to the right place. And be wary if you get a call following up on a donation pledge that you don’t remember making–it could be a scam.
3. Person-in-Need Scams
Scammers could use the circumstances of the coronavirus to pose as a grandchild, relative or friend who claims to be ill, stranded in another state or foreign country, or otherwise in trouble, and ask you to send money. They may ask you to send cash by mail or buy gift cards. These scammers often beg you keep it a secret and act fast before you ask questions. Don’t send money unless you’re sure it’s the real person who contacted you. Hang up and call your grandchild or friend’s phone number to see if the story checks out. You could also call a different friend or relative.
4. Scams Targeting Your Social Security Benefits
While local Social Security Administration (SSA) offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, SSA will not suspend or decrease Social Security benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Scammers may mislead people into believing they need to provide personal information or pay by gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or by mailing cash to maintain regular benefit payments during this period. Any communication that says SSA will suspend or decrease your benefits due to COVID-19 is a scam, whether you receive it by letter, text, email, or phone call. Report Social Security scams to the SSA Inspector General online at https://oig.ssa.gov/
5. Crime Around Bank Branches and ATMs
Due to government orders to shut-down non-essential business, our sidewalks, streets and public places are empty. This makes it easier for criminals to attack people and take away your money and valuables if you are walking around.
Avoid withdrawing and carrying cash unless you really need it, and do not stay out when it gets dark outside. Your bank account is the safest place for your money with FDIC insurance up to $250,000. Please see more information about FDIC insurance - https://www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/faq.html
6. Home Invasion Scam
A scammer may show up at your home unannounced, posing as a utility company employee e.g. Con Edison or claiming that you asked for home repairs or telling you that they need to shut off your electricity because you didn’t pay your bill. Once the criminal is inside the house, he/she may threaten you and steal your money and valuables.
Don’t let any person or stranger enter your house, unless you have made a specific appointment with them and you have verified their identity with your utility company. Verify Con Edison person’s identity by calling Con Edison customer service (800) 752-6633.
7. Home Delivery Scam
You may receive a call or an email from a scammer for home delivery service for your grocery and other needs. They may ask for an advance online payment before delivery of goods. Don’t act or respond to any call or mail from unfamiliar or previously untested sources.