Although there is good news on the horizon with another round of COVID relief checks and vaccines being distributed across the country, scammers are also busy working on making money from these positives. Iowa Attorney General, Tom Miller, says consumers should not let down their guard. “Scammers follow the headlines, and they’ll take advantage of our excitement, confusion and other emotions,” Miller says. As stimulus money is deposited and mailed, Miller offers some things to remember. No government agency will ask you to pay up front to get your stimulus check. They will not call, text, email or contact you on social media to ask for your social security number, bank or credit card information and you cannot get your money any faster through a third party. As far as vaccines are concerned, several scams have already been reported. In December, Aging Resources of Central Iowa said scammers were contacting residents and trying to sell tickets to guarantee a place on the COVID-19 vaccine waiting list. The FBI is warning of similar scams such as: offers to undergo testing; offers to sell and/or ship doses of vaccine; callers acting as medical or insurance personnel to gather personal information to determine eligibility; and advertisements for vaccines through social media, email, telephone or online. Consumers are also being advised to beware of companies offering any products or treatments that they say can prevent the virus. If you believe you have been a victim of COVID-19 fraud, contact the FBI, Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General or the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division through the phone numbers included below.
To report COVID-19 fraud:
Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General: 800-HHS-TIPS
Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division: 888-777-4590