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COVID-19 FRAUD INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

A public announcement from the FBI’s website:
https://www.ic3.gov/media/2020/200320.aspx

Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them. Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits. The FBI advises you to be on the lookout for the following:

Fake CDC Emails. Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus. Do not click links or open attachments you do not recognize. Fraudsters can use links in emails to deliver malware to your computer to steal personal information or to lock your computer and demand payment. Be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received.

Phishing Emails. Look out for phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money. Phishing emails may also claim to be related to:

  • Charitable contributions
  • General financial relief
  • Airline carrier refunds
  • Fake cures and vaccines
  • Fake testing kits

Counterfeit Treatments or Equipment. Be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19. Be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves. More information on unapproved or counterfeit PPE can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh. You can also find information on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, www.fda.gov, and the Environmental Protection Agency website, www.epa.gov. Report counterfeit products at www.ic3.gov and to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at iprcenter.gov.

If you are looking for accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19, the CDC has posted extensive guidance and information that is updated frequently. The best sources for authoritative information on COVID-19 are www.cdc.gov and www.coronavirus.gov. You may also consult your primary care physician for guidance.

The FBI is reminding you to always use good cyber hygiene and security measures. By remembering the following tips, you can protect yourself and help stop criminal activity:

  • Do not open attachments or click links within emails from senders you don't recognize.
  • Do not provide your username, password, date of birth, social security number, financial data, or other personal information in response to an email or robocall.
  • Always verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type them into your browser.
  • Check for misspellings or wrong domains within a link (for example, an address that should end in a ".gov" ends in .com" instead).

If you believe you are the victim of an Internet scam or cybercrime, or if you want to report suspicious activity, please visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

HEALTH-RELATED SCAMS

You may receive unsolicited calls, emails, texts or offers for home visits that require a Medicare/Medicaid number.  Some of the “enticing” offers include:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, hand sanitizer or gloves requiring payment with a prepaid card or verification of personal information (such as your Social Security number or bank information)
  • Products that claim to help diagnose, treat, cure, and even prevent COVID-19 requiring payment with a prepaid card or your bank account information. 
  • Opportunists are also making robocalls to offer HVAC duct cleaning as a way to "protect" your home and family from the virus.
  • People are also receiving calls from someone posing as police or hospital personnel claiming that one of your loved ones is in trouble somehow related to the virus and requires payment for bail, treatment, etc. with a prepaid card or your bank account information.

If you receive a letter, text, call or email that you believe to be suspicious, about an alleged problem with your Social Security number, account or payments, hang up or do not respond.

MONEY RELATED SCAMS

Calls or emails claiming to be the Social Security Administration threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19-related office closures unless you call a phone number referenced in the letter. Scammers may then mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of office closures. Social Security will not suspend or discontinue benefits even though offices are closed to the public for in-person service.

THERE ARE WAYS TO GET RELIABLE INFORMATION AND HELP

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Inspector General

Department of Justice

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Federal Communications Commission

Federal Trade Commission

US Department of the Treasury

US Food and Drug Administration

NH STATE RESOURCES

NH Department of Justice COVID-19 Scam Alerts

NH Department of Justice - Office of the Attorney General - Slam the scam

New Hampshire Legal Aid - Elder Financial Exploitation :  What it is, how to protect yourself, where to get help

NH FAST (Financial Abuse Specialty Team) This website was developed to serve as a trusted and reliable source of information for residents of the state of New Hampshire and their loved ones to prevent financial abuse.

LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES

Refer to the information on our COVID-19 Online Resource Page to find special resources your town may have to combat elder exploitation and fraud.

Be informed and be aware of these opportunistic scams. We all need to watch out!

 

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