CRIME

Live Mic: Beware of scammers and their schemes during COVID-19 pandemic

Apr 14, 2020, 5:03 PM
District Attorney Sim Gill...
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill speaks during a press conference, July 15, 2014. (Michelle Tessier, Deseret News)
(Michelle Tessier, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Beware of scammers and schemes associated with COVID-19.

The CARES Act is now paying out up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child to millions of American households. Congress passed the $2.2 trillion package and then President Donald Trump signed it.

Chances are if you recently and suddenly lost your job, you’ve been waiting for that check from the IRS. And neither can the fraudsters and scammers who would prey on people in this position.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill joined Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic, with information for listeners about how these scammers operate, and how to avoid them.

Scammers will use text, email, and social media

“People may be getting texted, getting emails or social media posts reaching out to you trying to ask you to sign up to receive your check and then thereby giving Social Security numbers or bank or PayPal account information,” Gill said.

Also, he warned, scammers will say your check is ready for you, you just have to verify your personal and financial information in order to receive a check.

Scammers will emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” But the official term used by the IRS is “economic impact payment.” The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details.

Fraudsters may contact you through email or fake social media post to say they’re trying to speed up delivery of your check, Gill said. It’s a scam.

“No government official is ever going to call you and ask for your personal information in order to receive these checks. And you should be on the lookout for that,” he said.

Your bank is also not going to call you and ask for your personal financial information.

When you do get these scam calls, hang up, Gill advised. Reach out to local law enforcement, the FBI or report the call to the IRS.

Utahns are generous

“In Utah, we’re a very generous people, very community-oriented people and we’re very caring,” Gill said. “And we want to help those in need. So be on the lookout for false charities that are being set up during this pandemic trying to gather your personal information.”

If you decide to donate, check out charities to make sure they are what they say they are, Gill cautioned.

Gil added beware of claims of remedies or cures for coronavirus because they can be dangerous.

With an extreme slowdown in the economy and unemployment claims skyrocketing, scammers are reaching out and asking for upfront money in order to help find you a job.

Seniors beware

“If it sounds like grandma is being scammed, where do you reach out to report suspected fraud?” Lee asked.

Because the elderly are self-isolating and have lost some level of connection with family and friends, they are much more likely to be exploited during this time, said Gill.

“When you get these solicitations, they may look official. There may be just a slight variation, and they may ask you to click on it. And that’s a phishing scam. The moment you click on, you may be turning over private information and giving them access to your computer,” the district attorney warned.

For more information on how scammers are trying to fool consumers, contact the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office here.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

State of Utah: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line 18004567707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app

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Live Mic: Beware of scammers and their schemes during COVID-19 pandemic