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 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.
         5. Be wary of government imposters who claim to be able to help you obtain CARES Act funds

    Be wary of government imposters who claim to be able to help you obtain CARES Act funds.

  • 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.

U.S. Postal Inspection Service COVID Scams PSA

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

U.S. Postal Inspection Service COVID Scams PSA

U.S. Postal Inspection Service Economic Impact Payment
(Stimulus Check) Scam PSA

 

U.S. Postal Inspection Service Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Check) Scam PSA

U.S. Postal Inspection Service COVID Cure Scams PSA

 

U.S. Postal Inspection Service COVID Cure Scams PSA

U.S. Postal Inspection Service Romance Scam PSA

 

U.S. Postal Inspection Service Romance Scam PSA

U. S. Postal Inspection Service Employment Scams PSA

 

U. S. Postal Inspection Service Employment 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