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COVID-19 Pandemic Breeds Multiple Scams

Government agencies do not ask for credit card or bank account information over the phone. (logoboom/Adobe Stock)
Government agencies do not ask for credit card or bank account information over the phone. (logoboom/Adobe Stock)
April 8, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- While people are staying home to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 infections, the pandemic is bringing out scam artists, all hoping to cash in on fears about the virus.

Fraudsters see the growing number of infections as an opportunity to prey on people and steal their money or sensitive information, finding clever ways to ask for credit card and bank account numbers. Mary Bach, who chairs AARP Pennsylvania's Consumer Issues Task Force, warned against falling for phone calls, text messages or emails from imposters offering face masks, treatments or cures.

"People should never give out any of their personal, private information -- anything about their money -- to anyone they don't know, calling them cold," she said.

For the latest online tips and alerts about scams to watch out for, look online at AARP.org/Fraudwatchnetwork or call their helpline at 877-908-3360.

Bach noted that other scammers are posing as government workers offering to expedite the distribution of federal stimulus money, or seeking to "verify" bank information for direct deposit.

"The government is never going to call you and ask you for your credit card information or for some type of bank account information," she said, adding that the government already has the information it needs for the distribution of stimulus funds to anyone who already receives direct deposit of Social Security benefits or tax refunds.

Other scams include fraudulent charities and bogus investment opportunities. Bach stressed the importance of being vigilant whenever anyone asks for money or personal information.

"Scam artists will utilize any means they possibly can of trying to victimize any of us," she said. "If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam."

More information is online at aarp.org.

Disclosure: AARP Pennsylvania contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA