Beware Coronavirus Scams and Price Gouging

Beware Coronavirus Scams and Price Gouging

Attorneys general are warning consumers to beware of scams and price gouging associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Unfortunately, crises like this often bring out scam artists hoping to take advantage of people’s fears and concerns.  Attorneys general enforce consumer protection laws that prohibit scams.  Many attorneys general also enforce statutes prohibiting price gouging. Price gouging refers to sellers trying to take unfair advantage of consumers during an emergency or disaster by greatly increasing prices for essential consumer goods and services.  Laws on price gouging vary depending on where you live. To learn more about what your attorney general is doing to protect consumers during the coronavirus crisis or to report price gouging concerns, click on the map to be directed to your attorney general’s website.

See below for tips on how to avoid scams and other information from federal agencies.

How to Avoid Scams

Beware of suspicious phone calls, emails, and texts

Scammers may try to steal your money and identity by sending phony communications via phone calls, emails, and texts. If a stranger claiming to be an expert on coronavirus contacts you, ignore them. Don’t click on any link or open any attachment from an unfamiliar sender; they could download a virus onto your computer or device. Consumers should report scammers to your attorney general. For the most current medical information about the coronavirus prevention and treatment contact the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO)

Beware of fraudulent charities or solicitations

If you would like to donate to a charity focused on addressing the coronavirus, do your homework to maximize your contribution. Make sure you verify that the charity is legitimate; donate by check or credit card and not by cash, wire transfer, or gift card; and don’t be pressured into making a contribution. Visit our charities page to get more tips.

Don’t trust anyone offering vaccinations or other treatments

There is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus according to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Consumers should ignore online offers for vaccinations, medicine, and other treatments. If you are unsure about a product, check with your doctor before you buy it. For the most current medical information about the coronavirus prevention and treatment contact the CDC

Watch out for high-priced or low-quality products

Media reports have suggested prices are increasing on products like hand sanitizer and face masks. Read health recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) when deciding whether a purchase is necessary. Research before you make a purchase, only buy from reputable companies, and don’t pay an unfair price for something you may not need. Report instances of what seem like unreasonably high prices or defective products to your attorney general. Click here to find a link to your attorney general’s online complaint portal. 

Beware of false and misleading information

Visit reputable sources like the  Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), or your state or territory’s Department of Public Health for updates on the coronavirus and its impact in your area. Beware of untrustworthy sources that might be spreading false information.

Federal Agency Consumer Alerts and Tips

Federal agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, are sharing tips and consumer alert information about how to avoid falling for coronavirus related scams. 

FTC Data Shows Jump in Coronavirus Scams

Since the beginning of the year, the FTC has received more than 7,800 coronavirus-related reports from consumers, double what they were through mid-March. Click here for data demonstrating this increase.

FTC Tips About Avoiding Coronavirus Scams

The FTC has issued updated tips to avoid coronavirus scams and keep fraudsters at bay.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions related to the Coronavirus and the U.S. FDA’s responses.

Latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information about the Coronavirus pandemic

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention webpage by clicking here.

FDIC warning about scam callers, emails and texts claiming to be from FDIC

To learn more about this Alert, click here.

FTC issues consumer alert about possible government check scammers

From the Federal Trade Commission:

As the Coronavirus takes a growing toll on people’s pocketbooks, there are reports that the government will soon be sending money by check or direct deposit to each of us. The details are still being worked out, but there are a few really important things to know, no matter what this looks like.

1. The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. No fees. No charges. No nothing.

2. The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.

3. These reports of checks aren’t yet a reality. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.

So, remember: no matter what this payment winds up being, only scammers will ask you to pay to get it. If you spot one of these scams, file a complaint with your Attorney General. Please also tell the Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov/complaint. We’re doing our best to stop these scammers in their tracks, and your report will help.

Health-Related Information

For the most up to date information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic visit the Centers For Disease Control Website.