When It Comes to the Coronavirus, Protect Your Health And Your Wallet

Posted on 04/03/20

Fraud Watch Network - Fraud

AARP Pennsylvania warns residents to be on guard against scam artists hoping to prey on the fear and anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

AARP Pennsylvania State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh said AARP’s national Fraud Watch Network expects to see a significant increase in Coronavirus-related scams in the coming days.

“Scammers always look to capitalize on the latest headlines as ways to steal money or sensitive personal information,” said Johnston-Walsh. “Just as you can take steps to protect yourself from COVID-19, you can also keep these opportunistic scammers at bay.”

Johnston-Walsh added that the latest trend is scams related to the new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) that was signed into law just last week. Reports have surfaced of government imposters already calling consumers to suggest that they might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant once they confirm their personal information. Other variations of the scam suggest that you can get more money from the government - or get your stimulus check faster - if you share personal details or even pay a small processing fee.

“Just remember that no one will call or text you to verify your personal information or bank account details so you can receive a stimulus check,” he said. “The U.S. Treasury Department expects the distribution of stimulus payments to begin in the next three weeks.”

In addition to scams related to Federal stimulus checks, Johnston-Walsh warned consumers about these COVID-19 related scams:

  • Online offers used to sell bogus Coronavirus products — from face masks to vaccines to cure-alls —to get you to share payment or sensitive personal information.
  • Emails, texts and social media posts touting an alleged can’t-miss investment opportunity like face masks or a cure. If a vaccine or treatment is developed, you will hear about it in the news, not on an online ad or sales pitch.
  • Donation requests claiming to raise money to help victims. Before giving, check out charity watchdogs, like give.org or charitynavigator.org.

He encouraged consumers to rely on entities they know and trust for information on COVID-19, including the AARP Fraud Watch Network. If fact, consumers can check to see if an offer is a scam by calling the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. The service is free and available to anyone-you don’t have to be an AARP member.

“While scientists and medical professionals are working overtime to find ways to test for and stem the spread of the virus, bad actors are working hard to use this as an opportunity to deceive consumers and steal their money or sensitive information,” said Johnston-Walsh. “The best advice is to stay safe, stay vigilant and remember—if you can spot a scam you can stop a scam.”

This story is provided by AARP Pennsylvania. Visit the AARP Pennsylvania page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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