Charleston, S.C (STL.News) With the Coronavirus vaccine being distributed across the country, United States Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr. warns South Carolinians to be on high alert for fraudsters seeking to take advantage of the pandemic.
“Having already seen supply scams, provider scams, economic impact scams, phishing scams, and even charity scams related to COVID-19 across the country, every South Carolinian should be extra cautious for the possibility of phony websites and other outreach claiming early access to the vaccine,” said U.S. Attorney McCoy. “Everyone, particularly seniors and their caretakers, should be on high alert for fraudsters seeking to take advantage of their most vulnerable neighbors.”
At the beginning of December, it was reported that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had already received over 250,000 COVID-19 related consumer complaints, with two-thirds involving fraud or identity theft.
“Be it through robocalls, texts, emails or other means of communication, the potential for continued Coronavirus scams could be as rampant as the disease itself,” U.S. Attorney McCoy continued. “Not only do these criminals victimize the recipient of the scam, they can also cast doubt for many others to trust the legitimate work being done by honest, reliable providers.”
U.S. Attorney McCoy wants South Carolinians to know that the best defense to Coronavirus scams is vigilance, knowing criminals have multiple methods to try to take advantage of others. He urges all to:
Know that you cannot pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine or to get early access to the vaccine.
Know that no legitimate vaccine distribution site or heath care payer, like a private insurance company, will call asking for your Social Security, banking, or credit card numbers to sign you up to get the vaccine.
Beware of providers offering other products, treatments, or medicines to prevent the virus.
Check with your health care provider before paying for or receiving any COVID-19-related treatment.
Never send money or give out your Social Security number, date of birth, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers and expiration dates to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
Know that the IRS will never ask for your social or bank information over the phone.
If you have become a victim, do not be too ashamed or afraid to report it.
“Along with law enforcement partners, the United States Attorney’s Office will work to identify, investigate, and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who seek to defraud their neighbors during this pandemic,” concluded McCoy.