Four cons related to coronavirus

Created date

May 4th, 2020
Medicare forms like this one are full of sensitive information you wouldn't want getting into the wrong hands.

Medicare forms like this one are full of sensitive information you wouldn't want getting into the wrong hands. Definitely don't share that information with anyone who calls about a "COVID Kit".

One of the silver linings of the global coronavirus pandemic has been watching people come together and support one another in inspiring ways. But there are always con artists who will take advantage of fear and uncertainty to scam others out of money, and, unfortunately, that is happening amid the crisis. 

Here are four you should have on your radar right now and some tips on how to avoid them:

1. Medicare scams. Capitalizing on current fears about health, some fraudsters are making calls posing as Medicare representatives. “Scammers might call to offer things like a ‘COVID-19 kit,’ ‘coronavirus package,’ or Medicare benefits related to the virus,” according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). “But they’ll ask you to verify personal information like your bank account, Social Security, or Medicare numbers.” If you receive one of these calls, you should immediately hang up and file a complaint with the FTC.

2. Investment scams. It’s not uncommon for con artists to use the news and current events to defraud potential investors, and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception. “We have become aware of a number of internet promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result,” the Securities and Exchange Commission announced in a recent investor alert. “The promotions often take the form of so-called ‘research reports’ and make predictions of a specific ‘target price.’” Be particularly wary of microcap stocks because there’s often limited information available about these very small companies.

3. Stimulus check scams. As people around the country await the arrival of their economic impact payments (commonly called “stimulus checks”), con artists are ramping up coronavirus phishing scams and targeting older adults. The IRS reminds taxpayers that stimulus checks will be direct deposited to your bank account or mailed to your address on file. “We urge people to take extra care during this period. The IRS isn’t going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a recent news release. “That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don’t open them or click on attachments or links. Go to IRS.gov for the most up-to-date information.”

4. Coronavirus prevention scams. We’re all waiting for a cure or vaccine for COVID-19, and some unethical companies are making deceptive claims that their products can treat or prevent the virus. The FDA and FTC are working together to protect consumers from buying those unapproved products. “The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., said in a recent news release. “We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue such as this one. The FDA’s laws are designed to protect the public health by ensuring, among other things, that drugs are safe and effective for their intended uses.”

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