Since the start of the pandemic, fraudsters have been playing on the public’s uncertainty and fears to trick people into giving them money or personal information. These scams have included everything from fake websites offering PPE to fake cures for COVID-19. Most recently, Virginia Beach health officials have warned residents about emails from scammers demanding payment in order to get a vaccine. Below are other scams, as well as resources on how to avoid and report them.
COMMON COVID-19 SCAMS
Vaccinations: Virginia is providing vaccines for free, and recently launched a new website so you can register and check your status: vaccinate.virginia.gov. Ignore emails, calls or texts asking for payment to “jump the line,” be placed on a waiting list, or have the vaccine shipped to you.
Contact tracing: The Virginia Department of Health uses contact tracers to notify those who have been exposed to cases of COVID-19, and Caller ID will show “VDH COVID Team.” These callers will not ask for money or information such as a Social Security number, banking details or credit card numbers. Click here for more tips from the FTC.
Stimulus payments: You don’t have to do anything or pay anyone to get a COVID-19 stimulus payment because the IRS will use the same payment method used to send your tax refund, Social Security retirement, or other government benefits. You can let the IRS know where to send your direct deposit if they don’t already have by going to the “Get My Payment” feature at irs.gov/coronavirus. Don’t answer phone calls, emails or texts asking you for information in order to get your stimulus payment.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Be suspicious of any emails asking for personal, medical or financial information. You can check if the sender is emailing from an official government account by seeing if the email address has “.gov” at the end. Don’t click on any links if you’re not sure it’s a legitimate email.
Ignore offers to purchase a COVID-19 vaccination card. Valid proof can only be provided by legitimate providers administering the vaccine.
If you do get vaccinated, don’t post a photo of your COVID-19 vaccination card on social media. You card may contain personal details such as your date of birth that can be used to steal your identity.
HOW TO REPORT FRAUD
There are several agencies where you can report COVID-19 scams: