(INDIANAPOLIS) – State Reps. Chris May (R-Bedford) and Steve Davisson (R-Salem) urge Hoosiers to be vigilant in protecting themselves against scams, which continue to surge during the public health pandemic.
May said it’s important to stay informed and alert because fraudsters are using coronavirus-related fears to obtain personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. The Federal Trade Commission reported receiving more than 117,000 consumer complaints involving COVID-19 scams, with approximately half of the people reporting losses, totaling $75 million.
“Many Hoosiers are struggling with job losses and health concerns related to the pandemic,” May said. “Unfortunately, we also need to be on alert for fraud and remain vigilant in protecting ourselves against scams.”
According to the FTC, there has been an increase in online shopping fraud as some stores were closed or remain closed due to the pandemic. These scams can include offers for hard-to-find items, such as face masks and hand sanitizer, and the FTC recommends researching companies and checking their online reviews before making a purchase.
Scammers are also using text messages and robocalls to offer free home testing kits, promote fake cures and sell low-priced health insurance. Government imposter scams are also on the rise, including those targeting people on Medicare. Davisson said if a caller claims to be a Medicare representative and asks to verify personal information like bank account, Social Security or Medicare numbers, Hoosiers should hang up.
“When disasters hit, scam artists try to strike,” Davisson said. “They prey on people after major storms and natural disasters, and they’re doing it now. Please remember to be on the lookout and protect your personal and financial information. If something does not sound or feel right, don’t risk it and verify the business or person.”
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Hoosiers have had an extra three months to file their state and federal taxes, which has also kept the doors open to scammers looking take advantage of tax refunds. Originally set for April 15, the deadline to file has been extended to July 15. The IRS won’t contact individuals by phone, email, text message or social media with information about tax information, or to ask for a Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number.
To guard against coronavirus scams, lawmakers asked Hoosiers to follow these five tips provided by the FTC:
- Ignore offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are selling products to treat or prevent COVID-19 without proof that they work;
- Hang up on robocalls. Scammers use these illegal sales calls to get your money and personal information;
- Watch out for phishing email and text messages. Don’t click on links in emails or texts you didn’t expect;
- Research before you donate. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. Get tips on donating wisely at ftc.gov/charity; and
- Be informed. Visit ftc.gov/coronavirus for the latest information on scams.
Hoosiers who believe they are a victim of a scam should contact law enforcement immediately. Report scams to the Indiana Attorney General’s office by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com and the FTC by visiting ftc.gov/complaint.