As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers are stepping up to take advantage of those most vulnerable. Scams can come in the form of emails, phone calls, or text messages. Stay healthy, stay alert!
Scammers will seek to take advantage of the current COVID-19 crisis in a variety of ways including, but not limited to:
- Price Gouging - Report any product that has an excessively high price tag to Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section. To report scams or price gouging, reach out to the OAG Consumer Protection Section at 1-800-552-9963 or online at www.ag.virginia.gov/consumer-protection. As Governor Northam has declared a State of Emergency in Virginia due to coronavirus (COVID-19), price gouging protections go into effect. You may read more on that here: https://www.oag.state.va.us/consumer-protection/index.php/news/390-march-12-2020-price-gouging-protections-in-effect-as-state-of-emergency-declared-over-coronavirus. If you do see cases of price gouging, please use the price gouging complaint form found here: https://www.oag.state.va.us/consumer-protection/files/PriceGougingComplaintFormOAG.pdf
- Spread of False Information - Make sure to do your part and verify information using official sources before sharing.
- Sale Offers for Rx - Be alert when you see sale offers for test kits, treatment drugs, or prevention drugs. Contact the Virginia Department of Health or your primary care physician prior to making any purchases. Ignore any offers, online or otherwise, for a coronavirus vaccine. If you see any advertisements for prevention, treatment or cures, ask the question: if there had been a cure for the disease would you be hearing about that through an advertisement or sales pitch?
- Request for Donations - As groups step up to help, find out more about the requesting organization and how those funds will be used. Also, if someone wants donations in cash, gift card, or wire transfer, don’t do it.
- Request for Personal Information - The IRS has reported that economic impact payments will begin going out mid to late April. The IRS will NOT contact you by call, text or email and ask you for personal information or ask you to pay a fee or confirm personal information – IT IS A SCAM. Stay informed and spread the word: www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
Unfortunately, there are many new scams targeting senior citizens at a time of general fear and concern over health and finances. Check out Scams Targeting Seniors to cover the latest phone and e-mail scams that exploit COVID-19 and the coronavirus.
Also, be on the lookout for other scams that are going around surrounding the coronavirus. Examples are:
- Look out for emails that claim to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that they have information about the coronavirus. For the most updated information you can visit the CDC and the World Health Organization websites.
- Do not click on any links from unknown sources. This could lead to downloading a virus on your computer or phone.
- Thoroughly research any organizations or charities purporting to be raising funds for victims of the coronavirus.
- Look out for “investment opportunities” surrounding the coronavirus. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission there are online promotions claiming the products or services of certain publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure the disease and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase because of that.
- Dominion Energy also addresses scams during this pandemic. They want to remind their customers that Dominion Energy will not shut off your power for nonpayment. People rely on Dominion Energy to meet critical needs, and they should not have to worry about losing service during this critical time. The company has suspended all service disconnections as individuals, families, businesses and communities pull together to meet our collective needs. They know the communities they serve rely on them to provide an essential service. Dominion Energy remains committed to providing reliable energy service 24/7. Dominion Energy also reports that they will be reconnecting residential customers whose services were shut off for nonpayment. Customers should contact them, and they will work with you to restore your service. Dominion Energy does not make calls requesting immediate payment or require customers to pay with prepaid cards of any kind. For more information, please click here.
Check out official and current information about COVID-19: