What are some of the recent scams since the COVID-19 pandemic?

Here are a few common ones. Check with the Federal Trade Commission for updates:

  • Stimulus check scam – Scammers are asking for bank account, PayPal, or other sensitive information, claiming that they need it to process your stimulus check related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These are frauds. Do not give them any information. Visit irs.gov for updates on government stimulus checks.
  •  COVID scams for home-test kits, vaccines, or cures – Scammers trying to sell fake kits; some even going door-to-door. These are frauds. Do not give them any information. Call your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms.
  • Loved ones in trouble scam – Scammers posing as friends or family members online or over the phone, asking for money or your personal information. Do not give them any information. These could be frauds. Especially if the person is not using their typical personal contact method (personal email or phone number), if they are asking you to wire or send money to a third-party account, or anything else does not seem right, protect yourself first. Contact other mutual friends or family to verify the person’s whereabouts and wellbeing. Remember, social media and email accounts can be hacked; even phone numbers can be stolen. Always verify.
  • Charitable giving scam – Scammers exploiting people’s heart to help by impersonating charitable organizations or creating fake organizations. Always verify the legitimacy of organizations and donate directly instead of to an individual.

 

What can I do to protect myself and my loved ones?

Although scammers may change their disguise, many of their tactics remain the same. You can avoid becoming a victim by practicing some simple steps:

  • Never give out your personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you, even if they claim to be from a government agency (IRS, Social Security, FBI, Centers for Disease Control, etc.) or financial institution (bank, credit union, credit card company, etc.). Whether you receive a call, text, email, notice in the mail, social media message, or website alert, never give out sensitive information. No matter if they are claiming good news (a prize, a check, inheritance, etc.) or bad news (threatening you with financial or criminal consequences), never means never.
    • What to do instead

Ask the person for their name and the branch/division if applicable. Tell the person that you will contact the company/government agency directly and hang up. Do not argue with them. If it is a legitimate company, they will have no problem with this. If it is a scammer, they will try to keep you on the phone and upset you until you give them the information.

Next, look up the legitimate contact information for the government agency, company, or financial institution. Contact them directly or look for the information you need on their website.

  • Never click on links in emails or texts that look suspicious. Scammers plant viruses and malware that can instantly take over your computer, tablet, or phone.
    • What to do instead

Look up the legitimate contact information for the government agency, company, or financial institution. Contact them directly or look for the information you need on their website.

What if I am a victim of a scam?

 

Resources

Federal Trade Commission

IRS

Attorney General's COVID Scam Alert

consumerresources.org

FBI

State of Hawaii - Internet and Social Media Solicitations: Wise Giving Tips

FTC - Before Giving to a Charity