Protect yourself against coronavirus scams


By Sherrod Brown



Reports across the country have shown that coronavirus scams are on the rise, and I want you to have the best information. These scammers prey especially on older Ohioans but have even targeted small business owners.

Scammers have appeared selling fake vaccinations and testing kits; offering delivery of sanitation supplies; impersonating the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); and many more. They occur online, on the phone, and in person.

Scammers are also targeting stimulus payments from the CARES Act. Remember: the government will not call you asking for PayPal information, or your Social Security, credit card, or bank account numbers.

I’m taking this matter very seriously. On Friday, I joined 33 senators in urging the FTC to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams. We asked the FTC to tell us what steps it will take to better protect seniors, how it plans to coordinate with other federal agencies and what resources it needs to better protect Ohioans.

Tips for Avoiding Scams

Here are some important tips from the FTC:

Hang up on robocalls and don’t press any buttons. Scammers are pitching everything from fake coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might tell you to press a button to be removed from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls.

Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proved to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Fact-check your information. Scammers, but also well-meaning people, share information that isn’t verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources.

Do your homework when it comes to donations, especially with charities or crowdfunding sites. Investigate charities before you donate and don’t let anyone rush you into giving money.

At this time of heightened public fears, it’s important to remain vigilant and follow the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) tips for avoiding coronavirus scams. To report a scam to the FTC, go to ftc.gov/complaint.

I’ll keep working with my colleagues in Congress to push federal agencies and the White House to do more to protect all Ohioans during this pandemic. You should be focused on the health and safety of you and your loved ones, not worried about a scammer going after your hard-earned money.

By Sherrod Brown