The Ohio Attorney General (OAG) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have identified an increase in scams during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What Do Scams Look Like?
- Attempt to sell you “at-home COVID-19 testing kits”
- Attempt to sell you pills, vaccines, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products to “treat” or “cure” COVID-19
- Falsely claim to represent organizations, like the World Health Organization, and solicit donations in the form of cash, gift cards, wire transfers or prepaid money cards
- Promise to get your stimulus check from the federal government early if you provide your personal of financial information
- Send you a link to a false Census website and tell you that if you do not complete the 2020 census, you will not receive a stimulus check from the federal government
- Threaten termination of your Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamp or other benefits due to COVID-19 and ask for personal, financial or medical information; or payments, gift card purchases or wire transfers to maintain your benefits
What Should I Do Generally to Be Safe?
- Never give your personal information to someone calling you in relation to COVID-19. This includes your name, the name of anyone you live with, insurance information, your home address, any financial information, or your social security number.
- Never follow a prompt to press a button on a robocall. This includes if the prompt is to make the calls stop. Hang up immediately if you answer a robocall.
- Scammers can use social media accounts of people you do know to increase the chance of you providing information. If you receive a suspicious message on social media from a friend, reach out to that person separately to make sure it was actually them.
Scams Related to COVID-19 Tests, Treatments and Cures?
- There is currently no at-home test for COVID-19 and there are no reputable agencies offering at-home testing
- There are currently no pills, vaccines, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19 online or in stores
Scams Related to Charitable Donations?
- Be cautious of organization or crowdsourcing fundraisers soliciting donations. Do your own research on organizations before donation.
- Legitimate organizations rarely, if ever, accept donations in the form of cash, gift cards, wire transfer or prepaid money cards. Be suspicious of organizations soliciting these types of donations.
- A database of registered charities in Ohio can be found here.
Scams Related to Federal Stimulus Checks?
- Details about stimulus checks from the government are still being worked out. Scammers will tell you they can get you the money now.
- The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges.
- The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number.
Scams Related to Social Security (SS)?
- Social Security won’t threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest or other legal action and demand a fine or fee to prevent benefit suspension
- SS will not promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment
- SS will not require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card
- SS will not demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem
- SS will not email you with attachments containing personally identifiable information.
- To report Social Security scams about COVID-19, visit https://oig.ssa.gov/.
Scams Related to Medicare?
- Medicare will never contact you for your Medicare Number or other personal information unless you’ve given them permission in advance
- Medicare will never call you to sell anything
- You may get calls from people promising you things if you give them a Medicare Number. Do not do it.
- Medicare will never visit you at your home
- Medicare can’t enroll you over the phone unless you called first
Where Can I Get Reliable Information?
- For up to date and accurate updates about COVID-19, visit the Center for Disease Control website or the Ohio Department of Health website
- For up to date information about scams related to COVID-19, visit the Federal Trade Commission, The Office of the Ohio Attorney General or the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General