COVID-19 Scams and public service announcements

Saturday, August 22, 2020

 Scam alerts & NYPD alerts

Coronavirus scams: 

U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing

ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams or https://www.sba.gov/COVIDfraudalert

8/13/2020 [For businesses] Be Alert About Email Phishing Scams – Bad Actors Seeking to Take Advantage through “SBA Loan Application.
August 13, 2020, sba.gov/blog, by Keith A. Bluestein, SBA's Chief Information Officer
In the wake of emergency assistance available to help small businesses in response to the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the SBA [Small Business Administration] is urging disaster loan applicants seeking federal aid to be alert to phishing campaigns and scams. These malicious actors are impersonating the SBA and its Office of Disaster Assistance to collect personally identifiable information (PII) for fraudulent purposes. The SBA is particularly concerned about scam emails that are targeting applicants of the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program asking them to verify their accounts using a third-party online platform to collect personally identifiable information...Any email communication from the SBA will come from email accounts ending in sba.gov, and nothing more...federal agencies that provide disaster recovery assistance will never ask for a fee or payment to apply for financial assistance, and government employees do not charge for any recovery assistance provided.

6/27/2020 Scammers may use the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to steal your identity and commit Medicare fraud. In some cases, they might tell you they'll send a Coronavirus test, masks, or other items in exchange for your Medicare Number or personal information. Don't fall for it; it's a scam. It's important to always guard your Medicare Number and check your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) for errors. Only give your Medicare Number to participating Medicare pharmacists, primary and specialty care doctors, or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf. Remember, Medicare will never call you to verify your Medicare Number. Visit Medicare.gov/fraud for more information on protecting yourself from fraud and reporting suspected fraud.

6/27/2020 NYC's Consumer & Worker Protection document COVID-19 Scams and Safety Tips.

5/8/2020 SBA's scam alertssba.gov/document/report--sba-programs-scams-fraud-alerts

6/11/2020 NYC COVID-19 Scams and Safety Tips: www1.nyc.gov/assets/dca/downloads/pdf/consumers/COVID-19-Scams-and-Safety-Tips-English.pdf

REMINDER that stores and restaurants that are shut down due to coronavirus stay-at-home are vulnerable to theft. Please report any suspicious activity to the NYPD, call 911.

3/24/2020 NYPD warns, that you should not allow access to your building or your unit to anyone that you were not expecting. Criminals have been posing as clean-up crews for the corona virus or in some instances, governmental agencies – CDC etc. in order to gain access to buildings and residences and then rob them. You are also putting your health at risk by coming in contact with people who you don't know and allowing them to touch things in your home. Contact your building manager or super if you have questions about who should be authorized to go into your home. 

4/19/2020 NYPD warns that businesses that are closed during the "stay-at-home" directive for coronavirus may be a target for robberies. Business owners, if possible, check up on your business periodically or have someone do it for you. If anyone in the neighborhood notices a business that appears to be breached, please report it to 911. 

5/1/2020 Scam Targeting Business Owners. The NYPD has informed us of a new scam targeting business owners. If you receive a phone call, email, or text message instructing you to purchase a prepaid merchant gift/debit card, cryptocurrency, or money order to pay any of the following, just hang up – it's a scam! The fake caller may say they are Law enforcement for bail, IRS for owed taxes, Utility company to avoid service interruption, Immigration officials to avoid deportation/arrest, Social Security officials for fraudulent activity/warrant/arrest involving your Social Security number, Ransom, Hospital for emergency treatment of a loved one. For more information and quick tips, follow the NYPD Crime Prevention Division on Twitter using handle @nypdcpd.

4/30/2020 NYPD Scam Alert. The NYPD has informed us about a series of new COVID-19 themed scams targeting businesses and individuals. Observed scams have included selling fraudulent personal protective equipment (PPE), hawking fake cures and tests, spreading disinformation, phishing campaigns, and other related scams. Read this NYPD brief for more information and tips on identifying COVID-19 related scams https://www.grandcentralpartnership.nyc/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/20200422-COVID-Fraud-EXTERNAL_SHIELD_FINAL-1.pdf. Also, follow the NYPD Crime Prevention Division on Twitter @nypdcpd.

Not every COVID-19 testing site is legit
April 30, 2020, consumer.ftc.gov, by Ari Lazarus, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
You probably know that COVID-19 tests are in short supply. But did you know there’s no shortage of scammers setting up fake COVID-19 testing sites to cash in on the crisis? 
Not sure if you need to get tested? Try the CDC’s self-checker. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html

Scam emails demand Bitcoin, threaten blackmail
April 29, 2020, consumer.ftc.gov, by Bridget Small, Consumer Education Specialist
You may get one of these messages because your email was exposed in a recent data breach. The scammers may say they have access to your computer or webcam, or installed clever software to defeat you. That’s all talk. But they may really know one of your old – or recent – passwords, and they include it in the message to prove it. When you see that, you know it’s time to update your password on that account, and consider updating other passwords, too. 
[Editor's note: I got this scam as a popup window on my browser and the followup emails. There may be some malware connected with this scam, as my browsers then became useless and couldn't connect with the internet. I ran the browser diagnostics to test network connectivity and one of the suggestions was to check your device's Firewall to see what applications are allowed. I had to remove my Google Chrome browser and then put it back. After doing that, everything ran well, although there was some setup to get the browser back the way it used to be. I also changed the passwords that the email said were compromised. Passwords are considered strong if they have at least 8 characters, upper and lower case alpha characters, numeric characters and special characters.]

Scammers are using COVID-19 messages to scam people
April 10, 2020, consumer.ftc.gov, by Cristina Miranda, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC

Hang up on tech support calls
April 10, 2020, consumer.ftc.gov, by Jim Kreidler, Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
It can be frustrating to have problems with your computer, especially now that so many people are working from home. But if you get a call from someone claiming to be a Microsoft technician, saying there are viruses on your system, hang up the phone. It’s a scam. Never give control of your computer or your credit card to anyone who calls you out of the blue. Security pop-up warnings from real tech companies will never ask you to call a phone number. If your pop-up insists that you call, it’s a scam. If you think there may be a problem with your computer, update your computer’s security software and run a scan. If you need help fixing a problem, go to so someone you know and trust. Many software companies offer support online or by phone. Stores that sell computer equipment also offer technical support in person.

4/10/2020 Credit card hacking: Editor's personal note: My credit card was hacked this week. Tips: Only make donations at sites with a URL that starts with "https" (secure websites). Only click on trusted webites. Check your credit card activity as often as you can, preferably online, and check statements to make sure that all transactions are legitimate. Call your credit card customer support number if you see transasactions that you don't recognize. 

Coronavirus checks: flattening the scam curve
April 8, 2020, by Karen Hobbs, Assistant Director, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
The check’s not in the mail – yet. Reports say that paper checks – for people without direct deposit – will start arriving in May at the earliest. So, if you get an economic impact payment, stimulus, or relief check before then, or you get a check when you’re expecting a direct deposit, it’s a scam. That’s not the IRS calling, texting, or emailing. Scammers are sending official-looking messages – including postcards with a password to be used online to “access” or “verify” your payment or direct deposit information. The IRS will not contact you to collect your personal information or bank account. It’s a scam.

Help COVID-19 contact tracers, not scammers 
June 25, 2020, consumer.ftc.gov, by Shameka L. Walker, Attorney, Division of Consumer & Business Education, FTC

 

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