Pandemic, Stimulus Checks Create Opportunities for Scams

Editor's Note: The American Society on Aging continues to monitor the world's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and wishes to highlight resources on this page that are pertinent to our membership and those who work with older adults. 

With millions of Americans under nationwide mandates to stay home, scam artists are using this as an opportunity to use robocalls to contact unsuspecting consumers, including seniors, in attempts to swindle them out of their money, as well as peddle fraudulent products.

“It is outrageous that scammers are seeking to capitalize on the public anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic to prey on the public, especially seniors,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). “Scammers are continuously updating their tactics to find new ways to trick consumers so it is imperative that all individuals, particularly older adults, are armed with information to prevent them from falling victim to a con artist.”

As this public health crisis worsens, consumers should beware of products fraudulently marketed as a “vaccine” or “cure” for COVID-19. Other reported scams include emails impersonating reputable organizations, like the World Health Organization, in an attempt to steal personal identifiable information. And, with the federal government preparing to send cash payments to help Americans weather the pandemic’s financial effects, con artists may pretend they are representing the government in attempt to collect a “fee” that they claim is needed prior to receiving a payment.

Earlier this month, Senator Casey sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, concerning coronavirus-related scams and requesting information on each agency’s actions to prevent misinformation about the coronavirus. This week, Senator Casey also sent a letter to the FTC inquiring about the agency’s efforts to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a webpage with information on tips to avoid becoming a victim of any of the various coronavirus scams. If you or a loved one receives a suspicious call or email related to the coronavirus, do not engage, and immediately contact the Aging Committee’s toll-free Fraud Hotline at-1-855-303-9470.