The FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Inspector General have been issuing alerts about the increase in Coronavirus fraud as consumer and government agencies ramp up their efforts to protect the public from predators looking to make money off people’s fears about getting the virus.
BE SKEPTICAL OF OFFERS TO PAY FOR A VACCINE ON YOUR BEHALF. Because the Coronavirus is a public health emergency, it’s unlikely you will have to pay for the vaccine. You should also beware of scammers claiming to be medical professionals and demanding payment for treating a friend or relative for COVID-19.
YOU CAN'T PAY TO GET YOUR NAME ON A LIST TO GET THE CORONAVIRUS VACCINE. Don’t fall for scammers’ promises about getting early access.
NO GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL WILL BE CALLING YOU ABOUT GETTING VACCINATED. No one from a vaccine distribution site or health care payer, like a private insurance company, will call you asking for your Social Security number or your credit card or bank account information to sign you up to get the vaccine.
WATCH OUT FOR OFFERS OF ALTERNATIVE CURES FOR CORONAVIRUS. While waiting for a vaccine, don’t get so impatient that you become a victim of a scam. If you’re concerned about when you can get vaccinated, check with your health-care provider.
UNSOLICITED EMAILS ABOUT COVID-19. The following tips will help you recognize and avoid scam emails intended to download malware on your electronic devices, obtain your personal information, and steal your money.
BEWARE OF ONLINE LINKS THAT SEEK PERSONAL INFORMATION. A Coronavirus-themed email that seeks personal information like your Social Security number or login information is a phishing scam. Delete the email.
CHECK THE EMAIL ADDRESS OR LINK: You can inspect a link by hovering your mouse button over the URL to see where it leads. Sometimes, it’s obvious the web address is not legitimate. But keep in mind phishers can create links that closely resemble legitimate addresses. Delete the email.
WATCH FOR SPELLING AND GRAMMATICAL MISTAKES. If an email includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, it’s likely a sign you’ve received a phishing email. Delete it.
LOOK FOR GENERIC GREETINGS. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like “Dear sir or madam” are a sign that an email is not legitimate. Delete it.
AVOID EMAILS THAT INSIST YOU ACT NOW. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action. The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal information — right now. Instead, delete the message.