Scams and rumors
From offering miracle cures to claiming you get a special economic stimulus payment, there are people out there whose sole aim is to try to steal your money and livelihood during these uncertain times.
Economic Stimulus Payment Scams
The IRS is warning taxpayers of a COVID-related text scam that tricks people into disclosing bank account information under the guise of receiving an Economic Impact Payment. Find more information online here.
Report scam texts and calls to the Federal Trade Commission here.
The federal government has seen an increase in scams related to federal stimulus payments including phone calls, text messages and e-mails phishing for information. The messaging includes variations of language such as "in order to receive your/your client's stimulus payment via direct deposit, we need you to confirm the banking information" and they are gathering that information via telephone or directing victims to click on a link that takes them to a website where they enter their banking information.
Here are some important things to know:
The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money.
The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number.
The Washington State Office of the Attorney General also has information and resources for reporting scams.
Protect yourself from phone or online scams
Scams have increased with the threat of COVID-19. Some people are taking advantage of this uncertain time to scam others. The best protection is to know what to look for. Warning signs that the phone call or email is a scam:
Being asked for personal banking information. If you are contacted by someone who asks for your bank account number, do not give it to them.
Unrecognizable numbers. Robocall scams are best avoided by not answering your phone if you do not recognize the phone number. Also, do not respond to mystery texts on your phone offering promises that are too good to be true.
Claims that you’ve won money or qualify for financial assistance. These are most likely a phishing emails or calls. Do not provide personal information.
Don’t believe everything you read online. Fact check information with reliable sources.
Know who you are buying items from. Companies may claim to be selling one product, and after you purchase and receive it, it is not the product you were offered. Only buy from trusted companies.
Learn how to spot and avoid scams. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is helping consumers spot scams when it comes to the coronavirus. The FTC updates their blog with current scams to be aware of. If you believe you have been the victim of a coronavirus, or any scam, file a complaint.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is investigating complaints of price gouging and scams in the COVID-19 public-health crisis. Washingtonians are able to file a complaint online.
We also need to be vigilant looking for online scams from cybercriminals. WaTech's state Office of Cybersecurity is monitoring all activity and is sharing the latest news, updates and resources.
Learn how to spot and avoid scams
The FBI has put together a FAQ page about coronavirus related schemes.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has put together a list of common scam tactics a scammer may use to commit fraud in relation to the coronavirus.
The Better Business Bureau put out an alert about potential COVID-19 vaccine scams.
Keep your technology and information safe by following guidance from the Office of Cybersecurity
The North American Securities Administrators Association lists types of fraud and what signs to look out for
Avoid coronavirus based investment scams using information from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
- If you are getting assistance from the Small Business Administration, beware of scammers posing as the SBA to steal your money and personal information.
COVID-19 Cybersecurity Scams
Cybercriminals are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. Now more than ever, we need to be vigilant looking for online scams. Here are some important tips to follow:
Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits.
Be on the lookout for charity scams. Never donate in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money.
We now have a What you need to know page where you can find information about common rumors and help spread the truth about what is happening in Washington State as part of the coronavirus response.
Washington state takes unemployment insurance fraud very seriously. If you have reason to believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using your information or used a scam to obtain your private information, let the Employment Security Division know at this link.
Electric, natural gas, water and telecommunication companies can’t disconnect your service for unpaid bills right now. Anyone who says otherwise is a scammer! Hang up and call your utility. If you’re worried about paying your bill or having your utility service disconnected, learn how the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission can help. Call them at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882) or visit this website.