One would think that being at home would keep all of us completely safe! Unfortunately, people are using COVID-19 as a way to scare us into complying with their requests or demands, and far too often the targets of these scams are older adults.
Deborah Cox-Roush, director of Senior Corps, offered this information on the many scams circulating today.
- Counterfeit Stimulus Checks: You might receive a fake check with a number to call for you to verify your information. Providing this information to them is simply a way for them to gain access to your checking account so they can take your money or use your personal information to secure credit cards and other documents
- IRS Scams: Someone calls you pretending to be from the IRS saying that they need your financial information in order for you to receive your stimulus check. Don’t fall for this! The IRS has told us that they will never call you unless they are returning your call. They will also not contact you via text message or on social media
- Fake COVID Vaccines/Test Kits: Someone might try to sell you test kits or other products that they say you can use to test for the virus or that will prevent the virus. These might be vaccines, pills with high doses of Vitamin C or some kind of air filter system that they say will remove COVID-19 from the air in your home. There is no cure or vaccine for this virus and testing is only available from your medical professional or through your local and state governments. And, none of these are delivered to your house
- Errands-Grocery-shopping/Medication Pick-up: Be careful of someone you don’t know calling to offer to run errands for you such as grocery shopping and picking up medications or other supplies. These individuals will take your cash and never be seen again, leaving you empty-handed
- Scams Targeting Your Social Security Benefits: Someone is calling you to say that, due to COVID-19, your Social Security benefits will be decreased or suspended unless you provide personal information or send them money to maintain regular benefit payments during this period. Whether by text, email or letter, any communication saying that you will not receive your benefits due to COVID-19 is a scam
- Online Shopping: Many of us are now going online to buy groceries, medical masks and cleaning supplies. Be sure to purchase these goods directly from an established store or internet service that offers contactless delivery. Some others may not even have the goods that you’re trying to order
- Person in Need Scams: This is a variation of the grandchild scam. Someone might contact you claiming to be a grandchild, friend, or relative who is ill or stranded someplace and needs for you to send them money. They might also ask you to keep it a secret. Hang up and call the person they’re pretending to be to see if they are okay. Do not send money unless you are sure their story checks out
- Census Scam: Census scammers may contact you by phone, email, regular mail or visit you seeking your personal and financial information. They may also tell you that this information is required before you can receive your stimulus check. Real Census workers will never ask for financial information and receiving your stimulus check is not connected with completing the Census.
No one is exempt from being targeted by these scams. The best rule of thumb in all these cases is to never give out your personal information to anyone over the phone, in a text or in an email. And, if something doesn’t sound quite right to you, check it out with a relative, friend, or someone else that you trust.