GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – We’ve been continuing to track the growing number of scams related to COVID-19 in our Consumer Alert segments, and since January, more than 100,000 reports have been filed with the Federal Trade Commission, with more than $71 million lost.
The FTC is now breaking it down by state, and Wisconsin has more than 1,500 reports, and people have lost more than $800,000 to fraud related to COVID-19.
The top category for complaints, according to the FTC, is online shopping, which is mainly made up of people ordering products that never arrive.
Meanwhile, travel and vacation make up the second most complaints, which are in regards to refunds and cancellations.
WBAY reached out to the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) for tips on how to get a refund.
“It’s just a huge amount of complaints related to COVID-19 and we really are encouraging people if they’re having trouble, to file a complaint with the BBB,” says Susan Bach of the Wisconsin BBB.
In addition, the IRS is now warning about an uptick in scams, with Tax Day pushed to July 15 due to the pandemic, which they are investigating.
An Action 2 News viewer shared an e-mail with us that had the IRS logo, and said it was an official e-mail about ‘IRS penalties late filing of income tax return’, and also contained instructions on how to handle it.
The man we spoke with said he knew it was a scam and didn’t open the attached document.
In an IRS video, the agency said its Criminal Investigation Division is prioritizing scams exploiting economic stimulus and the coronavirus.
We’re also told complaints into the Wisconsin Division of Trade and Consumer Protection have skyrocketed during the pandemic.
“We’re seeing scams around testing, we’re seeing scams around S.B.A. loans, we’re seeing scams around contact tracers. In other words, if the government is out there addressing the pandemic and offering resources including stimulus checks, you can expect a scam related to that,” says Lara Sutherlin, the Administrator for the Wisconsin Trade and Consumer Protection Agency.
Remember, the IRS and Social Security Administration don’t contact you to ask for payments, or make threats.
Officials advise you to share financial safety tips with anyone who may be vulnerable in order to help stop scammers.
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