LA County Alerts Public About Increasing COVID-19 Scams, Warns About Fradulent Websites, Emails and Donation Requests
Los Angeles, CA (Tues., March 24, 2020)-- Los Angeles County residents are reminded of several fraud schemes designed to prey on the vulnerable in the midst of the COVID-19 public health crisis. Reports of malicious websites, email schemes, and suspicious links have come to the attention of law enforcement and public officials.
“Malicious actors can prey upon those that are distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and use it to their advantage,” stated Los Angeles County Chief Information Officer William Kehoe. “The public needs to be mindful and careful, and avoid websites, phishing emails, and scams that engage people through false information about the health crisis, and steal personal user information and data. By clicking on fraudulent weblinks, hackers can deliver malware and then gain access to passwords, browsing information, credit card numbers, and other personal information. We all need to stay vigilant.”
Currently, there are several Coronavirus tracking and mapping sites that are actually malware websites. Instead of clicking on these links, cybersecurity experts advise that website users should instead hover over the link to verify the uniform resource locator (URL) before moving forward. Online hackers may also send users emails from fraudulent accounts impersonating official websites and doctors, or offering medical supplies and services.
A trusted COVID-19 mapping resource is the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Global Map, which can be found at coronavirus.jhu.edu. Additionally, there are several websites the County of Los Angeles recommends for accurate, up-to-date information on COVID-19. The following is a list of sites:
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: cdc.gov
As residents in Los Angeles County practice “Safer at Home” directives, they are spending more time at home and online. Scammers are also taking advantage of this change in circumstances by reaching out door-to-door asking for donations and fundraising contributions through cash, Bitcoin, or Paypal. The County of Los Angeles reminds residents that they are not required to open their door, and encourages everyone to not feel intimidated by a false sense of urgency to answer door-to-door solicitations.
The following is a list of safety tips the public can follow:
• Avoid online advertising offers related to COVID-19
• Do not click on emails and attachments that you do not recognize
• Visit trusted websites for COVID-19 related information
Everyone should remain vigilant and take these steps to avoid being victimized by malicious scammers trying to profit from the COVID-19 crisis. If you believe you have been scammed, contact your bank immediately and report the information to local law enforcement.
County of Los Angeles, Chief Executive Office, Office of Emergency Management (OEM)
Want to get your Coronavirus relief check? Scammers do too.
You’ve probably heard the news by now – the government is sending out relief checks as part of the federal response to the Coronavirus. Scammers heard the same thing, and they’re hoping to cash in on yours.
The details of how this will all work are still coming together, but we do know a few things about how this will – and will not – work. For now, here are some things to know.
You don’t need to do anything. As long as you filed taxes for 2018 and/or 2019, the federal government likely has the information it needs to send you your money. Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who are otherwise not required to file a tax return also do not need to do anything to receive their money. If you otherwise have not filed taxes recently, you may need to submit a simple tax return to get your check. (More on who’s eligible here.)
Do not give anyone your personal information to “sign-up” for your relief check. There is nothing to sign up for. Anyone calling to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security number, PayPal account, or bank information is a scammer, plain and simple. Also be on the lookout for email phishing scams, where scammers pretend to be from the government and ask for your information as part of the “sign-up” process for the checks.
To set up direct deposit of your check, communicate only with the IRS at irs.gov/coronavirus. And you only need to do this if you didn’t give the IRS your bank information on your 2018 or 2019 return. In the coming weeks, the IRS will be setting up an online form available through irs.gov/coronavirus. But nowhere else, and never in response to an email, text, or call.
No one has early access to this money. Anyone that claims to is a scammer. The timeline for this process is not exact, but it looks like funds will start going out in the next few weeks. Scammers are using the lack of detail to try to trick people into giving their personal information and money.