Scam Protection

Coronavirus Scams, Rumors, and Price Gouging

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, scammers may try to take advantage of you through misinformation and scare tactics. They might get in touch by phone, email, postal mail, text, or social media. Protect your money and your identity by not sharing personal information like your bank account number, Social Security number, or date of birth. Learn more about these scams and how to report them.

Scammers change their methods frequently. Current coronavirus scams include:

  • Charity scams – Fake charities pop up during disasters. And scammers can also claim to be from real charities. Learn how to research charity claims and protect your money.
  • Checks from the government – Scammers say they’re from the IRS or another government agency and ask for your personal information or try to charge you fake fees for getting your stimulus check or offer you a way to get the money early.
  • FDIC and banking – People pretend to call from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or your bank and say your bank account or your ability to get cash are in danger and ask for your personal information.
  • Grandparent and military service member scams – A scammer pretends to be a grandchild or a military service member who’s sick or in trouble because of the coronavirus. They contact you asking to wire them money to pay for fake medical or travel expenses.
  • Testing, vaccine, and treatment scams – Beware of offers for “home” test kits and unknown “miracle” cures or vaccines. They do not exist. Scammers are also targeting Medicare recipients by offering COVID-19 testing in an attempt to steal personal information.

REPORT CORONAVIRUS SCAMS

CORONAVIRUS RUMORS

Rumors, myths, and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus can be frightening and misleading. Go to FEMA’s Rumor Control page to check out the real answers about the rumors you’re hearing.

Avoid Financial Exploitation

Scams and fraudulent practices can sometimes be sophisticated and can take advantage of relationships of trust. Taking steps to become an informed consumer is the best way to avoid becoming a victim of fraudulent or criminal activity. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind to protect yourself or a loved one from being the victim of financial exploitation.

Plan ahead

  • Discuss financial arrangements and estate planning with an independent attorney before you may experience age-related incapacity.
  • Documents such as a “Power of Attorney,” “Living Trust,” and an “Appointment of a Health Care Representative” are a few of the useful tools for managing your financial and personal affairs to discuss with an attorney.
  • Only appoint someone you trust to act as your power of attorney, or attorney-in-fact. The trusted person may be a family member or friend, but it is best if that person is financially independent. Two people appointed to act as attorneys-in-fact can supervise each other.
  • Be specific when describing the responsibilities of the person who will manage your financial and personal affairs.

Never sign a blank check

  • Never give a blank check to a helper assisting with bills and expenses. Always make checks out to the designated party.
  • Insist on reviewing the purpose of the check if someone else writes it out.
  • Insist on reviewing all receipts for expenditures made for you by someone else.

Never give out bank cards or personal information

  • Never give your ATM card, PIN number, credit cards, or credit card information to be used by anyone else – for any reason whatsoever.
  • Never give anyone your personal information to apply for a credit card on your behalf. The card will be in your name and bill will be yours to pay.

Avoid Telemarketing and mail scams

  • End telemarketing calls by hanging up immediately.
  • Caller ID and answering machines identify unknown callers.
  • Register your phone number at no charge with the “Indiana Do Not Call” list at www.indianaconsumer.com or 1-800-834-9969.
  • Do not respond to email or mail solicitations.
  • If you suspect telemarketing fraud, call the Consumer Protection Division of the Indiana Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-382-5516.
  • If you suspect mail fraud, call the US Postal Inspector at 1-800-372-8347.

Report identity theft immediately

  • Keep items containing personal information in a safe place.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, over the internet, or by mail, unless you initiated the contact and know with whom you are dealing.
  • If you become a victim of identity theft do the following:
  1. Contact the Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-ID-THEFT;
  2. Contact the fraud department of each of the three major credit bureaus and ask to place a fraud alert on your file, and that no new credit be granted without your approval;
  3. Close any fraudulently accessed or open accounts;
  4. Put passwords on any new accounts you open;
  5. File a report with the local police and the police where the identity theft took place and get a copy of the police report for anyone needing proof;
  6. Download the ID Theft Victim’s Kit at www.indianaconsumer.com

Report questionable businesses and repair services

  • Ask for a contract when you hire someone to do work on your home.
  • Never sign a contract if it is blank.
  • Call the Consumer Protection Line at 1-800-382-5516 to learn if consumers have made complaints about a particular business.
  • Go to www.in.gov/attorneygeneral or www.inbankers.org for information on scams threatening the public.