The world has always been a buffet for scam artists and the onset of COVID-19 is the crème de la crème for the unscrupulous. The buffet includes blood drives, and fundraisers, and civil movements, and the cherry on top comes in form of a stimulus check. Before the feast ensues, there are a few things to know so you aren’t a victim of the next scam.2

How do you know if the stimulus check is fake or real?

  • The government is mailing stimulus checks, and a second-round is scheduled to hit soon, but the government will not call asking for personal information and they certainly won’t ask you to pay upfront to get your check.
  • Various federal agencies such as the Emergency Management Agency won’t call you either so do not provide your Social Security number over the phone to anyone.
  • Do not accept the word of an anonymous caller, rather check the Federal Trade Commission regarding questions on stimulus checks and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for updates about the disease.

Are you willing to fund/donate to research?

  1. As the money rolls out, the calls will come in so be prepared by researching legitimate charities. Lists can be found online – search by state, by the attorney general, through the IRS, and via GuideStar—to ensure your money is going to a real organization.
  2. Avoid donating to organizations promoting services, cures, and medications to prevent or treat COVID-19 and never donate via cash, gift cards, wire transfer, or prepaid money card.
  3. Delete any emails claiming to be from the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention or other expert sources that want to exchange donations for information. Legitimate information is always free from the CDC and they are not requesting money for it.

You can open doors and have an open mind, but should you open your wallet?

  • Be watchful of anyone going door-to-door offering COVID-19 testing or temperature readings and requesting your personal information for their record. Call law enforcement immediately if this happens.
  • Browse the internet carefully and only open websites from trusted sources. Do not enter your personal information on any site.
  • When emails arrive in your inbox, use caution and do not open attachments if you do not know the source and do not download anything. Both actions can result in software that will quickly obtain your personal data.

Adapted from Ohio Department of Health1

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