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Coronavirus-related fraud complaints spike. Here’s what you should know | #coronavirus | #scams | #covid19

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PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Officials are reporting a huge spike in fraud complaints due to COVID-19.

More than 170,000 reports have been filed nationwide and as the pandemic evolves, so do the scams you need to watch out for.

You might remember the Marters of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, they contacted the Action News Troubleshooters trying to get a refund from a travel company.

The Troubleshooters have interviewed consumer after consumer trying to get their money back for COVID-related disruptions.

READ MORE: Tips on navigating travel disruptions due to coronavirus

And now scammers are taking advantage, promising to help you get refunds for everything from canceled vacations to weddings to gym memberships, but stealing your identity instead.

“There’s no reason any company would ever ask you for your personal information, there’s no need for it. You know, what does a company need your social security number for or any of that type of information,” said Bryan Lewis the CEO of Intellicheck.

Another relatively new scam is con artists pretending to be contact tracers.
“They’re calling them up and saying that somebody they knew came down with COVID. They can’t say who it is, but you know, they need to track and trace you and they ask for personal information. And they’re using that then to steal your identity,” said Lewis.

As many people experience delays in getting their unemployment checks and stimulus money. Scammers are preying on those vulnerabilities, too.

“And we’re seeing a very large rise in unemployment claims done through identity theft. You know, Pennsylvania just caught over 17,000 people doing it to the tune of $75 million in fake unemployment claims,” said Lewis.

It is a huge problem and scammers are not letting up.

Remember no government agency, including the IRS, will ever ask you for personal information by phone or email. And it is critical you protect your identity. Once it’s stolen, it is hard to recover.

Resources

Federal Trade Commission’s coronavirus resources

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