Written By: Ishton W. Morton – August 16th, 2020
It is absolutely imperative that we learn and understand their ways! Do not give permission fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 causing you fall victim to their schemes and scams. Thieves are on the prowl with scams relating to contact tracers, economic impact payments and used cars.
On August 12th, 2020, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued an extremely impressive warning to the citizenry of Ohio regarding an ongoing massive and overwhelming effort to scam people out of their Social Security benefits including their Stimulus check.
Subsequently, these imposter’s scam occurs when someone pretends to be from a government or law enforcement agency such as the Internal Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration.
As a result of COVID-19, scammers are even impersonating contact tracers. Contact tracers work to identify and notify anyone who may have been in contact with a person recently diagnosed with COVID-19 so those individuals can quarantine and prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
According to Yost, contact tracers are employed by local and state health departments, universities and nonprofit organizations. Legitimate contact tracers will ask you who you have been in contact with and where you have traveled over the past two weeks. In Ohio, contract tracers will first reach out to you via a phone call.
However, contact tracers will not:
- Provide you with the name of the person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Ask you for your Social Security number or access to your bank account.
- Tell you to download a tracing application.
Moreover, another version of these imposter’s scam involves a person impersonating a government agency issuing a payment, usually a tax refund or Social Security payment.
Also, the new version of this scam involves Economic Impact Payments (EIP), referred to as stimulus checks. As a result of the CARES Act, the majority of Americans started to see some financial relief starting in April through EIPs issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Ironically, although the majority of eligible Americans have already received the payments, there are still scammers claiming to be able to provide payment. The IRS is the only reliable source of information about the timing of your payment. The status of your payment can be found at www.irs.gov.
Furthermore, the IRS will not:
- Offer to “expedite” payment.
- Send a link in an email or text message to receive payment.
- Ask for your bank account or Social Security number.
One recent marketing ruse is the COVID-19 “Auto Stimulus” check promotional scam. The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that fake checks appearing to be from a fictitious Auto Stimulus program were circulating to lure consumers to used car sales. There is currently no stimulus program tied to auto purchasing. Here are some precautions to make sure you are not a victim of the scam:
If you receive a promotional flyer for an auto dealership, you can check the dealership’s status at www.bmv.ohio.gov.
Do not click on any links in a message promoting the stimulus check; it could include malware designed to steal your personal information.
Do not pay for promoted vehicles with a gift card or wire transfer. These are preferred payment methods of scammers.
Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice are strong urged to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515. Also, for those people living outside the State of Ohio are strong urged to contact the Ohio Attorney General Office of their respective state.