Coronavirus/
COVID-19 Related Scams

The rise of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the rise of coronavirus-related scams as criminals seek to take advantage of the fears of the public.

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Scammers seek not only to make profit through exploiting public health issues, but through spreading misinformation and creating confusion. The Inspection Service wants you to remain vigilant and equipped with knowledge and good practices to protect yourself and your family from emerging and constantly evolving scams and fraud.

Justice begins with you. Be sure to report any incidents of scams or mail fraud – especially those related to coronavirus/COVID-19, including government stimulus payments – to the Inspection Service here.

For updated information and developments about coronavirus/COVID-19, please follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You may also get more information about how the federal government is responding to coronavirus at usa.gov.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Survey Scams

    Scammers are in full swing taking advantage of the opportunity to use COVID-19 vaccines to perpetrate fraud upon the public using fake post-vaccine surveys. Victims are being contacted via email and/or text message after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and asked to participate in a fraudulent post-vaccine survey with the promise of a prize or cash upon conclusion of the survey. The survey may ask: “Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19?” and “Which vaccine do you think is better?” From there, victims are told they can choose from various free prizes and need only to pay shipping and handling fees to receive their prize. Victims then provide their credit card information and are charged for the shipping and handling fees, but never receive the promised prize. Victims are exposing their personally identifiable information (PII) to the scammers, which poses a great risk of their identity being stolen and/or sold.

    Please be aware: NO post-vaccine surveys are being conducted by Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. Emails or text messages that claim to be sent on behalf of these companies seeking personal financial information is illegitimate and fraudulent as these companies would never request an advanced payment for shipping or other expenses. DO NOT open the messages or respond with any personal information, including credit card and/or bank information. Always be sure to check information from your local government or official news sources. Even if you don’t pay, simply sharing PII can still expose you to the risk of identity theft.

    How to protect yourself from post-vaccine survey scams:

    Know your area’s plan for rolling out the vaccine.  Understanding the process in your area and how you can expect to be contacted will help you spot a scam.

    Research carefully. Be skeptical of anything that seems too good – or crazy – to be true. Be aware that none of the vaccines can be currently purchased online or in stores.

    Check with your doctor and local officials.  Review the official website of your local health department or contact your doctor for the most current and accurate information.

    Guard your government-issued numbers. Never give your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan information, or banking information to anyone you don’t know or trust.

    Is that link real? Double check the URL. Scammers often buy official-looking URL domains to use in their cons. Be careful to ensure that the link destination is really what it claims to be. If the message claims to be from the local government, make sure the URL ends in .gov When in doubt, perform a separate internet search for the website or call the source directly.

    If you are a victim, or spot a scam:
    • Report the activity to the online payment service used for the financial transaction.
    • Contact your financial institution upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity within your account(s).
    • Report suspected crime to uspis.gov/report or call USPIS at 1-877-876-2455.

    Please click HERE to view the PSA video below to learn more about COVID-19 vaccine survey scams.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

    With the development of the new COVID-19 vaccine, scammers and other malicious actors have seized upon the opportunity to deceive Americans and swindle them out of their hard-earned money, and more importantly, the ability to safe-guard their own health. The Postal Inspection Service advises the public to remain vigilant when being asked to pay for services or goods up-front, or when asked for Personal Identifying Information (PII).

    Beware of these and other emerging scams as you and your loved ones seek to maintain your well-being, as well as your bank account:
    • Paying for priority access to vaccination
    • Scheduling appointments through Eventbrite and other online platforms
    • Paying out-of-pocket and/or in advance for the vaccine
    • Requiring a virus test or antibody test before getting the vaccine
    • Paying to put your name on a waiting list
    • Getting the dose shipped to you for a fee
    • Unsolicited emails, text messages and phone calls from fake vaccine centers and insurance companies
    • Online ads for vaccine doses from unofficial sources

    Please click HERE to view the PSA video below to learn more about COVID-19 vaccine scams.

  • COVID-19 Relief Stimulus Scams

    Scammers are calling or emailing individuals claiming to be from the Treasury Department and offering expedited COVID-19 stimulus payments or assistance with obtaining a stimulus payment. You do not need to pay taxes or processing fees in order to obtain the COVID-19 relief stimulus payment. If you receive a call asking for personal information or for money to obtain a stimulus payment, hang up. Do not provide anyone personal information or send money to anyone in exchange for a stimulus check.

  • Individuals and Businesses Selling Fake Cures for COVID-19

    Some websites are offering vaccine kits from WHO or other legitimate sounding agencies, with the only costs being a $4.95 shipping fee. Consumers are asked to enter their credit card information on the website. Be aware, there are currently no legitimate COVID-19 vaccines or cures being distributed.

  • PPE Supply Scams

    Scammers are creating fake shops, websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks and disinfectant wipes. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies through these channels, fraudsters pocket the money and never provide the promised supplies.

    Only purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) or other medical supplies from reputable websites and vendors. Research the vendor and website for complaints before purchasing.

  • Malicious Websites and Apps

    Malicious websites and apps are circulating which appear to share virus-related information, but then gain access to and lock your electronic devices until a payment is received. Other websites are being designed to look like official sites used to track the spread of COVID-19 and ask you to download software (malware) that will compromise users’ devices and personal information. Only access legitimate websites through their known URLs.

  • CARES Act/PPP Scams

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed by Congress in order to get badly needed funds to Americans and businesses who were negatively impacted by the pandemic.  These funds include vital Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, in addition to Economic Impact Payments (EIP).  Scammers may try to take advantage of people’s uncertainty about who is entitled to these funds and how to obtain them.

    The Inspection Service urges the public to learn how to identify bad actors looking to cash-in on hard times by following these tips:
    1. You will not have to pay money to apply for a Payroll Protection Program loan.
    2. You will not have to pay money in order to receive a Payroll Protection Program loan.
    3. Be wary of imposters who claim to offer free “government grants” but charge money to apply.
    4. Check with trusted U.S. government agencies to confirm that a CARES Act funding program is legit and       not a scam.

  • Contact Trace Scams

    A Contact Tracer is usually a person hired by a state’s department of public health who works with a person infected with coronavirus to get the names and phone numbers for everyone they came in close contact with while infectious. Scammers are reaching out to individuals and claiming to be tracing COVID-19 contacts, then asking for their Social Security number and/or bank account information. Legitimate health agencies are calling people for contact tracing, but will not ask for Social Security numbers or bank account information, nor is there a fee or charge involved in a valid contact trace exchange.

    Additionally, do not click any links in email or text, and do not respond to texts saying you have been exposed to COVID-19.  A legitimate health department will send you a text only alerting you that you will be called, and then provide the number which will be calling you.

  • Phishing Emails

    Emails and posts promoting awareness and prevention tips and fake information about cases in your neighborhood may actually be cybercriminals trying to trick you into clicking on malicious links. Hackers are also using the outbreak to launch phishing scams through emails posing as official entities like the CDC or WHO, or specific government or health officials. These emails instruct recipients to open attachments and download files containing information on the coronavirus. The files are really malware, which attacks your computer and accesses your personal information.

  • Extortion Emails

    Digital scammers are using emails to threaten extortion and infection of the coronavirus if the recipient doesn’t comply with demands. The sender claims to know “every dirty little secret” and demands payment to keep quiet. If you refuse, the scammer threatens to infect you and your family with the coronavirus and disclose all of your secrets.

  • Robocalls and Hoax Calls

    Phishing scammers are calling pretending to be a representative from a COVID-19 hotline and asking for personal information like a Social Security number and date of birth. Other fraudulent callers are asking for financial information or payment for COVID-19 test results. No one will call you asking for your information, or asking for payment for test results or vaccines.

    Also, beware of robocalls offering coronavirus-related services, like HVAC duct cleaning to protect from the virus, offering free coronavirus test kits along with other health monitors, or fake cures.

  • Provider Scams

    Malicious actors are contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment. Other scammers are pretending to represent the Red Cross and sell COVID-19 test kits door to door. The Red Cross confirmed that it is not instructing victims to visit people in their homes.

    Medical providers are also obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that information to fraudulently bill for other tests and procedures.

  • Investment Scams

    Scammers are offering online promotions on various platforms, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks, issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information.

COVID Survey Scam – PSA

Did you receive a text or email offering you a prize if you participate in a post-COVID vaccination survey? Don’t fall for it! It’s a scam!

COVID Survey Scam PSA

COVID-19 Vaccine Scams – PSA

COVID-19 vaccines are finally here! But, so are the scammers trying to take your money through COVID-19 vaccine scams. We have info you need to stop the scammers.

COVID-19 Vaccine Scams - PSA

 

COVID-19 Scams – PSA

Although most Americans are sheltering at home to avoid the Coronavirus, staying home won’t insulate them from being targets of scammers.

COVID-19 Scams - PSA

Economic Impact Payment
(Stimulus Check) Scam – PSA

Scammers are already hard at work to try and get your Economic Impact Payment (or, better known as “stimulus check”). This video provides important information on these scams.

Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Check) Scam - PSA

COVID-19 Cure Scams – PSA

We’re all pulling for a COVID-19 cure. Unfortunately, at this point, there aren’t any. But, that hasn’t stopped scammers from duping people and taking their money by selling phony cures.

COVID-19 Cure Scams - PSA

Romance Scams – PSA

Staying at home, but looking for love? Watch out! Romance scammers are looking to take your $$. Check out this video to get tips on how to avoid ending up with a broken heart and an empty wallet.

Romance Scams - PSA

Employment Scams – PSA

Just when you think they couldn’t sink any lower… Scammers are taking advantage of the unemployed & those looking for work.

Employment Scams - PSA

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Scams – PSA

Scammers are taking advantage of COVID-19 to hoard/sell personal protective equipment (PPE) at outrageous prices. If you are aware of any company offering PPE at inflated prices or who doesn’t deliver the goods, please contact us (800-876-2455)

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Scams - PSA

HAVE YOU WITNESSED THIS SCAM?

If you’ve encountered a phony coronavirus scam, and the U.S. Mail® has been used in any way, we want to help. Please report the crime.

Report Now