According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Americans have reported over 260K scams and lost over $412M in frauds linked to COVID-19. Due to the rise in fraud, federal experts across the government share official information on how to recognize, avoid and report many types of scams. Explore five key tips collected by USAGov during National Consumer Protection Week this March to protect your family and wallets in 2021.
The five key tips to know are:
Scammers take advantage of people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If an offer, service or product is too good to be true, it probably is.
Resist the pressure from scammers to act immediately.
Government imposter scams are on the rise.
Protect yourself and your community by reporting scams and fraud.
1. Scammers take advantage of people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scammers use stressful situations to take advantage of you. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has been no exception. Protect your money and information by staying informed.
Rely on the Centers for Disease Control for official guidance and daily credible health and safety updates.
Read FDA’s official warning letters before buying products that claim to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose or cure coronavirus.
Identify and protect yourself from Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scams related to your taxes or Economic Impact Payments.
2. If an offer, service or product is too good to be true, it probably is.
Many financial promises are often too good to be legitimate. Keep an eye out for signs of a scam like online dates asking for financial details or winning a contest you never signed up for. Avoid sending money, gift cards, or cryptocurrency to anyone you meet online.
3. Resist the pressure to act immediately.
Legitimate businesses and agencies will always give you time to make a decision. But, scammers will pressure you to act immediately. If they demand money or make threats, that is a red flag that they are a scammer. If you get a message from someone you don’t know, ask for their information and do not share your own. Visit the FBI’s scam page to learn about common scams that pressure you.
4. Government imposter scams are on the rise.
Fraudsters often pretend to be government officials to get you to send them money. It’s important to remember that agency officials and representatives will never demand money or threaten to throw you in jail if you don’t comply. Do not give any of your personal information to callers claiming to be the Social Security Administration or Internal Revenue Service. If it’s legitimate, they will contact you again.
5. Protect yourself and your community by reporting scams and fraud.
When you report scams to the FTC, more than 3,000 law enforcement can access your report. The more information you can give, the more useful your report will be. Provide details at ReportFraud.FTC.gov. The FTC is the main agency that collects common scam reports like fake checks, student loan schemes, and agency impersonators. Be sure to check USA.gov to understand other places you may need to report based on your situation.
Want to protect yourself from the threat of scams? Stay informed at USA.gov. Follow @USAGov on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates from agency partners. You can also subscribe to email updates and alerts straight to your inbox.