COVID-19 scams spread
By Bob McDonnell
The internet and the world-at-large is full of scams and people that want to deceive or cheat you. With the onset of COVID-19, there are even more scams than usual. Be alert.
At this point, no law enforcement agencies in the state are pulling people over for COVID-19 checks or to see why you are out and about. Some local communities have reports of police imposters stopping drivers and asking for their information. If you suspect you are being pulled over by other than law enforcement, call 911 and drive to the closest law enforcement agency. The dispatcher on the phone should be able to verify if this is a legitimate stop.
Stimulus checks will be issued soon related to COVID-19. This economic impact payment, for those who filed tax returns in 2018 or 2019, will be deposited into the same banking account where a tax refund would go. If you do not have direct deposit, a paper check will be sent to the mailing address on your tax return.
No one is going to call you and ask for sensitive and private financial information so you can receive your check. Telephone scammers posing as someone who will give you the payment are trying to extract information from citizens. Don’t give out your banking, Social Security number, etc. over the phone.
Another long-standing phone scam targets grandparents. Their “grandchild” calls with a story of being in dire straight like stranded in a foreign country or in the hospital. Now the calls may try to twist the scenario and include something about the so-called grandchild being very sick from COVID-19.
These calls can be emotional, but the recipient needs to be logical. They should ask questions only the real relative would know. In addition. they should always check the story with other family members before sending any money or gift cards.
Not all COVID-19, or other scams for that matter, are all telephone related. Some use the internet and/or your email. Be cautious of emails asking for donations to any organization. With the rise in COVID-19, some email claim to be from the Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, etc. As with the calls, verify, verify, verify.
The creativity of the scammers seems endless. They have new twists on other phone scam solicitations. These include offering testing kits to those on Medicare and offering in-home testing.
Others say mortgage interest rates are down due to the virus. All you have to do is call them and give them all your vital financial information so they can steal your money.
Another offers home delivery of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers, face masks and of course, toilet paper. Once any of these scams get your bank account number, you are in jeopardy of losing money.
Lastly, at this time, no one is offering door-to-door COVID-19 testing. If someone comes to your door posing as a health care worker or representing a health organization, do not talk to them. Treat it as you would any other door-to-door salesperson or stranger who comes to your front door. Chances are good, they are not looking out for you.
In general, be very aware not only now but even after this threat passes. Many people are calling, texting, emailing and coming to your door who do not have your best intentions in mind. Think before you act.
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