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Beware of COVID Scams

April 27, 2020

Scammers are continuing to take advantage of the elderly and those who are not fully informed in the wake of additional protocols that were put in place throughout the state to combat COVID-19. Fraudsters are employing a number of tricks during the COVID-19 pandemic that the public needs to be aware of, such as a scam involving in-home test kits for the virus or products that cure or treat it, none of which exist at this time.

Anyone who knocks on your door, or calls you claiming to sell vaccines, tests, offers funds, etc. related to the coronavirus, does not represent the government, and is most likely trying to defraud you. Do not open the door for anyone you are not familiar with and always ask for credentials.

Major health authorities are warning that there is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19 and no vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection.

The FBI is warning the public to research the legitimacy of crowdfunding campaigns, online purchases, and links claiming to provide information about the pandemic. The agency is also warning about giving up personal information in an attempt to receive money or other benefits.

Be wary of fake emails from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; phishing emails asking for personal information in order to receive stimulus checks from the government; and fake treatments.

The federal government has begun distributing Economic Impact Payments to taxpayers. The IRS has asked taxpayers to be on the lookout for scams. Here are some ways to spot a potential scam:

  • If terms like "stimulus check" or "stimulus payment" are used. The official term is "Economic Impact Payment."
  • If you are asked to sign over your economic impact payment in order to receive additional money.
  • If you get a request by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal or banking information. The IRS will not call and ask to verify financial information to speed up payment.
  • If someone asks for your personal information to help you get your economic impact payment faster if they can work on your behalf.
  • If you are mailed a phony check and asked to call or verify information online to be able to cash it.
  • The economic impact payment is not in check form.
  • All money will be given through direct deposit from the IRS.
  • No forms are required.
  • The government will not ask for payment up front to process the payment.

Caltech Security advises that people continue to stay home, wash their hands, and "be vigilant for anyone attempting to sell you 'snake oil' cures, treatments, tests or vaccines,'' or trying to obtain personal information by claiming to be health or government officials.

You can report any suspected fraud to your local law enforcement or to Caltech Security.