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FTC Warns of Uptick in COVID-Related Scams

The FTC advises people to hang up and block any calls that promise early access to government coronavirus stimulus checks. (Sandy Huffaker/AARP)
The FTC advises people to hang up and block any calls that promise early access to government coronavirus stimulus checks. (Sandy Huffaker/AARP)
May 14, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Scammers are working overtime these days, using the coronavirus pandemic to separate people from their money or personal information, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The agency has seen a surge in calls, emails and Facebook ads promising COVID-19 miracle cures, vaccines and testing kits.

FTC Midwest regional director Todd Kossow says some of the scams target Medicare recipients.

"And if you're on Medicare, you might get calls, emails or see ads that claim to give you special access, either to testing kits or treatments," he points out. "But that's not how Medicare works."

Other scammers have bought up websites that look like government agencies and give out information on coronavirus, but then ask you to click on a link that will install malware onto your computer.

So consumers are urged to make sure their computer has up-to-date antivirus software.

A number of scams revolve around the government stimulus checks -- promising early access if only you pay a small processing fee or provide your banking information.

Kossow says some robocallers will lie and say a person's Social Security number is frozen because of suspicious activity linked to coronavirus scams.

"We've also seen mortgage and student loan, debt relief robocalls that mention relief programs purportedly relating to the COVID-19 situation," he states.

The best idea in each of these cases is to hang up, because pressing any numbers will flag your number to receive even more scam calls.

You can report the scams at ftc.gov/complaint.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - IL