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Consumer Protections and Scams: What Should I Know to Avoid Scams During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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

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?

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