Known scams

Avoid Coronavirus Scams

Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:

  • Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
  • Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
  • Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
  • Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.

    More information about COVID-19 scams:

    In a Corona Virus themed campaign, arriving phishing emails pretend to be from a local hospital, informing the recipient that they were exposed to the Coronavirus and that immediate testing needs to be done. (Always beware of any urgent action emails)

    The threat actor’s email tells the recipient that they may have been in contact with a friend, colleague, or family member who was tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

    Laying the trap perfectly, the email then asks the recipient to take a printout of the attached EmergencyContact.xlsm, (a malware-loaded document), to the local hospital. The recipient is prompted to click on 'Enable Content' to view the protected document attached to the email. Needless to say, you won't like the results of enabling the content. Call the hospital directly if you are unsure.

    Another attack is using an old-school method. A hacking group is sending users USB sticks in the mail. If users plug the stick in, it installs malware on their computer. Some of the packages have included gift cards and teddy bears. It has been a while since I've reminded people to not put mystery USB sticks into their computer but the old is new again.

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    COVID19 Offers Scammers Opportunity         
    By Sam Shumway,
    State Director
    AARP Wyoming

    In the year 2019, AARP's FraudWatch Network reported 24 percent of all scam calls reported in Wyoming fell under the "Imposter scams," category. That is, one which a caller pretends to be from the IRS, the Social Security Administration, or some other governmental agency demanding, and often times receiving, immediate payment. The results were $2.3 million in losses to Wyoming citizens.

    We know scammers look to capitalize on the news of the moment, especially if the headlines can instill fear and motivate people to act. The ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus is no exception. The Federal Trade Commission warns that bad actors are working hard to use this as an opportunity to deceive consumers and steal their money or sensitive information. There is no shortage of scams using CoronaVirus as a hook. Everything from fraudulent doorto-door testing in an attempt to steal your health insurance information, or Medicare information, to robocalls offering air duct replacements to keep coronavirus out of your home. We've even been told of a scam in which someone calling asks for your bank account information so they can deposit your economic stimulus payments, calling them "Trump Dollars." These are all scams.

    A new imposter scam is gaining traction around the country as someone claiming to be from the US Department of Health and Human Services emails our residents saying they must complete a mandatory COVID-19 preparedness test and gives you a link to enter in personal information. This is a scam.

    We also know scammers are setting up fake websites to sell bogus coronavirus products, everything from facemasks to cure-alls. They use calls, emails and texts in an effort to get you to share payment or personal information. Other scam calls are offering amazing investment opportunities in protective equipment manufacture and distribution for those willing to send in cash. These are all scams.

    Just remember, there is currently no vaccine available for coronavirus. Any advertised investment opportunity that claims to ride the wave of economic activity due to the virus is probably an opportunity to lose money to a scam. Finally, your best resources for information on the virus are the ones you know and trust — but first verify that the resource is who you think it is. Let's talk about a few ways to keep yourself safe in the face of scams.

  • Only rely on entities that you know and trust for information on COVID-19. If you are online, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.qov

  • Don't answer the phone if it is a caller you don't recognize and verify the person you're talking to is who they claim to be.

  • Be careful what links you click on or what phone numbers you call back. It is always safest to look up a link or phone number on the internet rather than clicking on a suspicious link or trusting a number left on voicemail.

  • Never give out your bank account, Social Security or Medicare numbers to anyone over the phone, at your door or via email.

  • Requests for donations to help people affected by the coronavirus. Ask the caller to send information by mail, and to defer any decision to give a donation to a cause until you've researched it. Online options include www.charitynavigator.orq and www.give.org. Be suspicious of any emails claiming to be from the CDC or experts saying that have breaking news information about the virus. Emails from local, state or federal government entities will come from an address ending in .gov.

  • And if you've been victimized by a scammer, call local law enforcement. AARP also offers its FraudWatch Network Helpline at 1-877-908-3360, with trained counselors who can tell you what options you have going forward.

  • As I spend my days grappling with the health and economic impacts of Coronavirus, it is clear to me that many of our friends and neighbors in the state are struggling. I fully believe our spirit of togetherness will see us through this crisis. Keep an eye out for yourself and your neighbors and we will get through this.

    Sam Shumway is the State Dlrector for AARP Wyoming. He can be reached at sshumway@aarp.org
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