STATEHOUSE (April 30, 2020) – Hendricks County legislators urge Hoosiers to be vigilant in protecting themselves against scams, which are surging during the public health pandemic.
According to State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon), fraudsters are using coronavirus-related fears to obtain personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims.
“Unfortunately, scammers use times of crisis to take advantage of others,” Steuerwald said. “Many of these scams are sophisticated, and everyone needs to be on high alert and remain cautious.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers are 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.
State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) said 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.
“Never provide personal information to someone over the phone,” Behning said. “If you are ever unsure about the legitimacy of a caller, hang up immediately. Then call the company back using the phone number on a bill or a verified website and report your concerns. It does not hurt to double check.”
Criminals are also taking advantage of individuals who are expecting federal stimulus payments. Scammers will call, text and email asking for personal or bank account information in order to release funds. The IRS won’t contact individuals by phone, email, text message or social media with information about stimulus payments, or to ask for a Social Security number, bank account, or government benefits debit card account number.
To guard against coronavirus scams, Hoosiers need 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.
State Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton) said Hoosiers who believe they are a victim of a scam should contact law enforcement immediately.
“The sooner you alert officials to potential fraud, the better the chance you can recoup your money or keep personal information from falling into the wrong hands,” Thompson said. “Plus reporting con artists can protect others from falling victim.”
He said scams should also be reported to the Indiana Attorney General’s office online by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com and the FTC by visiting ftc.gov/complaint.