COVID-19 has been ravaging the United States for over a year, throwing many citizens’ lives into disarray. Whether the pandemic has wreaked havoc on their career, education, financial stability, or health, it seems there are few who have made it to this point unperturbed in some way. While most of us can take solace in knowing we aren’t alone in our struggles, unfortunately there are those who have found ways to take advantage of others, even amid a pandemic. COVID-19 scams have become quite prolific, targeting people from all walks of life. Because of this, it’s prudent to stay abreast of the latest schemes so you know how to avoid them altogether.

What Are the Most Popular COVID-19 Scams?

As much as we’d like to believe a pandemic can bring the entire country together, some bad actors are using others’ struggles to make a quick buck. Indeed, it seems there’s a scam out there for every area of life that could be impacted by COVID-19. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported by AARP, as of February 2021, Americans have lost a grand total of $332.6 million to scams related to the virus. Scammers have been using emails, robocalls, text messages, social media posts, and more to defraud citizens. Keep an eye out for any of the following popular schemes:

  • Communication claiming to have COVID-19 vaccines for sale.
  • Communications claiming to be able to secure a larger stimulus check or deposit the stimulus check into your account more quickly.
  • Texts claiming to offer help with rent, mortgage, or utility bill payments.
  • Robocalls or emails requesting health insurance information or payments.
  • People offering to purchase vaccination cards.
  • People calling and claiming to be contact tracers.
  • Communications claiming to sell COVID-19 testing kits.

This list is not exhaustive, but does illustrate some of the most common scams you may encounter.

How Do I Know if Something is a Scam?

As with any other scam or phishing scheme, be discerning. Protect yourself from scammers by:

  • Scrutinizing the name, phone number, or email address the request is coming from.
  • Deleting any email or text message that includes unsolicited hyperlinks or attachments.
  • Analyzing the message itself for typos or other suspicious features.
  • Never giving out your personal information (including name, date of birth, credit card number, or health insurance identifiers) over email, text message, or robocall.

The IRS, CDC, and other official government organizations will never request your information via insecure channels like those listed above.

What Should I Do if I See COVID-19 Scams in Action?

Whether you are the target of a potential scam or know someone else who is, it’s important you take the time to report it to the proper authorities to prevent others from falling victim. If you’ve been taken advantage of and have lost money, the first thing to do is to notify the police. They may not be able to recover your money, but starting a paper trail on a scammer can make it easier to catch them later. Once the police are aware, your state’s consumer protection and law enforcement offices need to know. You can locate their contact information here.

There are also several agencies in the federal government you can report to, depending on the nature of the scam. Most COVID-19 scams can be reported directly to the FTC, but ones that fraudulently claim to work for the Social Security Administration (SSA) or Internal Revenue Service (IRS) should be reported directly to these agencies using official channels. Although you likely will not receive any communication in response, trust that these organizations take scammers seriously and are actively tracking down these ne’er-do-wells.

Guarding Your Financial Stability in the Inland Empire

Staying safe in the face of fraudulent COVID-19 scams can sometimes feel like a second job, but protecting your finances from more reputable institutions shouldn’t be so difficult. But it is not just the internet scammers harming consumers.  Unfortunately, many banks and credit unions are also scamming their customers out of their money with excessive overdraft and NSF fees despite the financial difficulties facing many households. You have enough to worry about. Let the class action attorneys of McCune Wright Arevalo, LLP, handle the corporations as we’ve done numerous times before. If you suspect your bank or credit union is participating in unscrupulous practices, we can fight for you. Contact us today or call (855) 976-3154 to schedule your free consultation!