LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The FBI is warning scammers are taking advantage of people during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to get a hold of their information.
“Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal people’s money, personal information, or both,” Connor Hagan said.
And they know millions of Americans will soon be receiving at least $1,200 from the government. Connor Hagan with the Little Rock FBI said the agency is already seeing scammers taking advantage of the situation.
“They’re basically putting in e-mails saying, ‘This is from the IRS… I need your private information to send you your economic stimulus money,'” Hagan said
The IRS will never call or e-mail you for your bank account number. The department is using tax information to send you the money.
“Do not give any personal information to any e-mail that is from possibly a government agency. That is not how the IRS is going to work, how the FBI is going to work, that is not how you are going to get your money,” Hagan said.
Also, watch out for suspicious e-mails that seem to have information about the virus claiming to be from organizations like the CDC. Scammers may send e-mails posing as charitable contributions or airline carriers saying they have refund money for a recent canceled flight.
“A lot of times these e-mails are forwarded among friend groups,” Hagan said
These e-mails may end up having bad links.
“Fraudsters can use links and e-mails to deliver malware to your computer or steal personal information and lock your computer and demand payment,” he said.
The FBI is also seeing problems with counterfeit products like COVID-19 tests or personal protective equipment available to buy. There is also no cure or prevention from the virus, so watch out for those, too.
“We’re really seeing crop up even within just the last week,” Hagan said.
The CDC has not approved any at-home tests.
“Testing for COVID-19 is going to be done at a hospital or at a reputable site,” Hagan said.
If you believe you have come across a scam, report it to the FBI here.
For more COVID-19 scams to watch out for, visit the FBI’s website.