Congressman Pete Stauber, R-Duluth, and Congresswoman Angie Craig, D-Eagan, introduced Thursday, July 16, the Stop Coronavirus Scams Act in a bipartisan effort to crack down on the rising number of scams occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a news release, the Stop Coronavirus Scams Act would double the maximum forfeiture penalty, criminal fine, and term of imprisonment for anyone who attempts to wrongfully obtain anything of value from individuals by using false COVID-19 related information.
“Since this pandemic began, we have seen a rising number of bad actors take advantage of this uncertain period by using phone and internet scams to trick Americans into giving money or revealing personal information,” Stauber stated in the release. “This is unconscionable, and Congress must act to ensure more Americans are not defrauded by cruel scam artists. By raising the penalties for those who choose to perpetrate these heartless crimes, the Stop Coronavirus Scams Act will deter others from choosing to initiate COVID-19 scams.”
“There has been an increase in scams disguised as critical information while ultimately intending to take advantage of people from all walks of life,” Craig stated in a release. “I’m proud to be introducing the Stop Coronavirus Scams Act with my colleague Rep. Pete Stauber, to keep the hard-earned dollars of Minnesotans safe from predatory bad actors.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, bad actors have used telemarketing calls, text messages, social media, and door to door visits to offer false COVID-19 information or services in exchange for personal information.
The Federal Communications Commission offers the following advice to help prevent falling victim to COVID-19 scams:
Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
Never share personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
Citizens should be cautious if they’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
Scammers often use spoof phone numbers to trick people into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call citizens to ask for personal information or money.
Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends the reader a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
Always check on a charity before donating.
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