As we have mentioned in previous IN-CASE blog posts, con artists love chaos, fear, and uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. During times of crisis, scam reports spike. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission says that since January 1, it has received 18,235 reports related to COVID-19, and people reported losing $13.44 million dollars to fraud.
Some of these scammers say they're "from the government" and have money to give to you. That's because they know many of us are expecting to receive stimulus checks. Scammers are clever. They may even use real government employee names to trick you.
One recent scam utilized an Office of Aging Director’s name to solicit personal information. The potential victim received a text from a friend telling her about an “Aging Empowerment Program.” She responded to the inquiry and received a call from someone posing as an Office of Aging Director. She was informed she qualified for $150,000, but they would need some additional personal information.
Stop! Now it is your turn to be clever.
Sometimes it is hard to tell if a message received from a friend is legit—they may have been hacked. Call your friend to inquire. Block or unfriend anyone who offers or requests unsolicited financial information on social media.
Do not assume it's a government official calling you. Search for the official government website and utilize the phone numbers listed there to inquire further. Tip: the government doesn’t operate like the scam scenario described.
Always use extreme caution and protect your personal information (e.g. Medicare number, Social Security number, or banking information)—especially when you did not initially seek out the program.
If you believe you or someone you care about could be the victim of a scam, you can contact or file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.