Scammers go after most vulnerable to coronavirus; AARP says spike in fraud

Reporter: Rich Kolko Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Public domain.

Scammers have their sights set on your stimulus money. AARP says it has reports of people losing more than $13 million in the last few weeks because of coronavirus scams.

We looked at how you can protect yourself from scammers going after you during the pandemic due to the spread of COVID-19.

AARP says there has been a significant spike in calls to its fraud hotline. The very latest scams it’s hearing about are fake cures and vaccines for COVID-19.

There is no cure and no vaccine for the coronavirus at this time. But getting the word out to the most vulnerable population, our older senior citizens, is more important than ever.

“Make sure that if you are feeling ill you contact your doctor,” said Amy Nofziger, the director of fraud victim support for AARP. “Do not take any unsolicited advice or medicine from anyone who texts you, calls you or emails you.”

Nofziger says seniors might be more trusting when getting a call or email, especially now. But we all need to be alert.

“We’re all at home and all emotionally elevated anyways, and the scammers know that, Nofziger said. “So know that yourself and pay attention. When the phone rings take a deep breath before you pick it up. And even better yet don’t pick it up unless you absolutely know who is calling. Let that call go to voicemail.”

So, while the scams have changed, the advice has not.

Never send gift cards. Don’t wire money. Ignore email attachments, and don’t give personal information over the phone.

If you think someone is trying to scam you, report it to law enforcement and the FBI Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3). You can also call in to the AARP fraud hotline at 877-908-3360.

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