COVID-19 Vaccine Scam
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are warning the public about several emerging fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more here.
To guard against these scams:
- Consult your state’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtaining a vaccine through such channels.
- Check the FDA’s website (fda.gov) for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
- Consult your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.
- Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals.
- Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.
- Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals.
- COVID-19 Vaccine Survey Scam - Scammers are sending out surveys claiming to be from various vaccine manufacturers like AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer. In exchange, people are offered a reward, but asked to pay shipping fees. IGNORE IT. It’s a scam. No legitimate surveys ask you for your financial information to pay for a “free” reward.
Federal Stimulus/Economic Impact Payment Related Scams
Beware that there is an increased risk of scammers attempting to exploit individuals expecting stimulus payments. Here are a few tips to spot potential red flags:
- The IRS will not contact you by phone, email, text or social media to verify your Social Security Number, bank account or credit card information.
- Scammers may suggest that you can get a faster payment by working on your behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
- Scammers may mail a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell you to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.
If you receive unsolicited emails, text messages or social media attempts to gather information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS. Notify the IRS at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about potential scams, watch this video from the Federal Trade Commission about COVID-19 related scams.
Fake Unemployment Benefits Scams
Due to the pandemic, many people are facing economic hardship and job loss. Scammers are using websites that mimic government unemployment insurance (UI) benefits websites to trick people into divulging their personal information. The Department of Justice has reported that scammers lure people to their fake websites by sending spam text messages and emails that look like legitimate communication from a state workforce agency.
A state workforce agency will not contact you out of the blue via text message or email inviting you to apply for UI benefits. If you receive an unsolicited text or email message that looks like it’s from a state workforce agency:
- Never click links in an unexpected message claiming to be from a state workforce agency.
- If you have applied for UI benefits and get a text or email about your application, contact your state workforce agency directly using contact information from its official website.
- If you need to apply for UI benefits, visit https://edd.ca.gov/Unemployment/Filing_a_Claim.htm
- If you gave someone your information, visit IdentityTheft.gov/unemploymentinsurance to learn what you need to do next.
If you receive a suspicious text message or email, report it to the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov
. Share this information with friends and family to help protect them from scams like this.
Common & Recent Scams
Tech Support Scams
Currently, scammers are pretending to be technical support for well known tech giants, or a representative from an internet service provider. They do this to gain access to your personal computer to install malware, or tell you to install bogus software to get your payment information. Generally, they try to gain access through pop ups on your computer.
Here's what to do:
- Don't click. Don't click on any pop up links or enter personal information. You don't want to give a scammer access to your computer or financial information.
- Report it. If you spot a scam, even if you fall victim to a scam, report it to the FTC. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP or online at ftc.gov/complaint.
- Tell your friends and family. Help your loved ones protect themselves by sharing this information, it’s the best way for all of us to stay safe online.
For more information about this type of scam, visit consumer.ftc.gov/features/pass-it-on/imposter-scams/tech-support-scams
Online dating has become increasingly popular among singles searching for love. But unfortunately, this popularity has also piqued the interest of scam artists. Scammers use fake profiles to strike up conversations with others on dating and social media web sites. They try to build trust with their targets and will eventually make up a story and ask for money. They will often say they are working outside of the United States and will ask for money, such as to purchase a return airplane ticket, to pay off debts, to pay for surgery or other medical expenses, etc.
How to Avoid Falling for a Romance Scammer
The most important thing to remember is: Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
If you suspect a romance scam:
- Stop communicating with the person.
- Talk with trusted family and friends about your situation. Pay attention when they are concerned with your new love interest.
- Search online about others who may have been scammed by people with similar stories.
If you think it’s a scam, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Share this information with friends and family to help protect them from scams like this. For more information about Romance Scams, click here.
Money Mule Scams
A money mule scam is when someone sends money to you and asks you to send a portion of it to someone else. They often ask you to use gift cards or wire transfers. The money they are providing you is likely stolen, drug and human trafficking are also common sources of the money, and they’re lying about the reason they need you to send it. The relationship, job, prize or other reason they state is not real and they are trying to use you to launder money.
To protect yourself from these scams:
- Do not be a middle man. Do not let someone funnel money into your account in order for you to send it to others.
- Avoid jobs that ask you to transfer money. Don’t send money to a “client” or “supplier” on behalf of a company. It is never wise to use your own bank account for work related things.
- Never send money to collect a prize. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No legitimate contest will ever ask you to send money for a prize. Also, if you did not enter to win the prize, be skeptical of anyone claiming to have a prize for you.
- Don’t send or accept money from an online love interest. Never send money to someone you have never met. It is a bad sign when they start asking you for money.
- Criminals are experts at making up reasons to get people to help them with their scams. Don’t do it. If you have any concerns, ask a financial professional. And remember to NEVER give out your account information to anyone.
If you think you might be involved in a money mule or money transfer scam, stop transferring money. Notify your financial institution, the wire transfer service and/or any gift card companies involved. Then, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Share this information with friends and family to help protect them from scams like this.