Consumer Protection Scams
Pinellas County Consumer Protection is warning residents about scammers who may try to steal their COVID-19 stimulus check or perpetuate other related fraud.
Pinellas County has a clear warning for consumers: do not give out personal or financial information and do not send money.
Stimulus Check Scam
Scammers are calling, emailing and texting consumers pretending to be from the IRS. In one scam, they are sending fake emails that appear to be from the IRS advising that direct deposit is the fastest and easiest way to receive the stimulus check. Consumers are then instructed to click on a link to provide bank account and other personal information. Scammers are also claiming that – for a fee – they can expedite stimulus payments or secure a personal loan.
Stimulus Check Facts
Economic impact payments from the federal coronavirus stimulus package are expected to be sent out in the next three weeks, although it could take longer for some people to receive the money. Those who provided bank account information when filing taxes last year will receive payment via direct deposit. For all others, a check will be mailed. The payments are part of $2 trillion recovery package to help Americans and the economy during this pandemic.
The U.S. Attorney’s office has formed the Middle District of Florida COVID-19 Fraud Task Force to combat fraud, scams and criminal activity related to COVID-19. They’re asking citizens to report suspected fraud to the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline (1-866-720-4721) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents are urged to remain vigilant for the following types of consumer fraud:
- Anyone selling fake testing kits, treatments or cures for COVID-19
- Websites seeking donations for illegitimate or nonexistent COVID-19 charities
- Phishing emails from entities posing as the CDC or WHO, which may contain malware
- Robocalls offering medical supplies with no intent to deliver
- Websites claiming to provide stimulus funds when consumers input their bank information
- Fraudulent medical billing for procedures related to COVID-19
- Hoarding or price-gouging of necessary supplies