Coronavirus Scams – Beware Fake Claims, Phony Websites | #scams | #elderlyscams
En español | The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by a parallel outbreak of coronavirus scams, many targeting older Americans.
As of April 19, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had logged more than 455,000 consumer complaints related to COVID-19 and stimulus payments, 71.4 percent of them involving fraud or identity theft. These scams have cost consumers $413 million, with a median loss of $343.
Fraudsters are using the full suite of scam tools — phishing emails and texts, bogus social media posts, robocalls, impostor schemes and more — and closely following the headlines, adapting their messages and tactics as new medical and economic issues arise.
For example, with the COVID-19 vaccination in full swing, federal and state agencies are warning of a flood of vaccine scams, with phony websites and email campaigns promising easy and early access to coronavirus shots. Authorities also anticipate a fresh wave of stimulus scams as the $1.9 trillion Amercan Rescue Plan Act brings a new round of relief payments, enhanced unemployment benefits and small business loans.
Here are some coronavirus scams to look out for.
Vaccine claims and bogus cures
Since the start of the pandemic, fraudsters have been bombarding consumers with pitches for phony remedies, and that’s unlikely to abate as the vaccines roll out and new tests hit the market.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says consumers should be on the lookout for these signs of vaccine scams:
- Requests that you to pay out of pocket to receive a shot or get on a vaccine waiting list
- Ads for vaccines in websites, social media posts, emails or phone calls
- Marketers offering to sell or ship doses of COVID-19 vaccines
The FTC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have sent dozens of warnings to companies selling unapproved products they claim can cure or prevent COVID-19. Teas, essential oils, cannabinol, colloidol silver and intravenous vitamin-C therapies are among supposed antiviral treatments hawked in clinics and on websites, social media and television shows as defenses against the pandemic.
The FBI says con artists are advertising fake COVID-19 antibody tests in hopes of harvesting personal information they can use in identity theft or health insurance scams.
Other scammers claim to be selling or offering in-demand supplies such as masks, test kits and household cleaners, often in robocalls, texts or social media ads. The FTC has issued warnings to companies suspected of abetting coronavirus robocalls, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set up a dedicated website with information on COVID-19 phone scams.