Lauer warns of coronavirus-related scams, highlights helpful tips

Posted by: Lydia Kirschner  | Thursday, July 16, 2020 11:12 am

STATEHOUSE (July 16, 2020) – State Rep. Ryan Lauer (R-Columbus) urges Hoosiers to be vigilant in protecting themselves against scams, which are surging during the public health pandemic.

He said it's important to stay informed and alert because fraudsters are using coronavirus-related fears to obtain personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. The Federal Trade Commission reported receiving more than 117,000 consumer complaints involving COVID-19 scams, with approximately half of the people reporting losses, totaling $75 million.

"Many scammers use fear tactics to take advantage of people," Lauer said. "During this public health emergency, different scams have appeared related to the coronavirus, aiming to trick people into providing sensitive information. For this reason, whether online or over the phone, do not disclose your financial information, Social Security number or any other sensitive material."

According to the FTC, there has been an increase in online shopping fraud as some stores were closed or remain closed due to the pandemic. These scams can include offers for hard-to-find items, such as face masks and hand sanitizer, and the FTC recommends researching companies and checking their online reviews before making a purchase.

Scammers are also using text messages and robocalls to offer free home testing kits, promote fake cures and sell low-priced health insurance. Government imposter scams are also on the rise, including those targeting people on Medicare. If a caller claims to be a Medicare representative and asks to verify personal information like bank account, Social Security or Medicare numbers, Hoosiers should hang up.

The IRS won’t contact individuals by phone, email, text message or social media with information about tax information, or to ask for a Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number. 

To guard against coronavirus scams, Lauer asked Hoosiers to follow these five tips provided by the FTC: 

  • Ignore offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are selling products to treat or prevent COVID-19 without proof that they work;
  • Hang up on robocalls. Scammers use these illegal sales calls to get your money and personal information;
  • Watch out for phishing email and text messages. Don’t click on links in emails or texts you didn’t expect;
  • Research before you donate. Don't let anyone rush you into making a donation. Get tips on donating wisely at ftc.gov/charity; and
  • Be informed. Visit ftc.gov/coronavirus for the latest information on scams.

Hoosiers who believe they are a victim of a scam should contact law enforcement immediately. Report scams to the Indiana Attorney General’s office by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com and the FTC by visiting ftc.gov/complaint.

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State Rep. Ryan Lauer (R-Columbus) represents House District 59,

which includes portions of Bartholomew County.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.