(The Center Square) – Whenever there is a crisis scammers will try to cash in, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul warns.
To most people, COVID-19 is an emergency but for scammers, it is an opportunity.
The Illinois attorney general’s consumer fraud hotline has been getting a new wave of complaints about COVID-19 related scams.
“They are pretending they may have the vaccine, or they want a fee to help you get a stimulus check,” Raoul said. “Don’t fall for it.”
No legitimate government agency will ask you for a fee or for personal information in order to help you get a vaccine appointment or a stimulus check, Raoul said. Asking for a fee is a red flag, he said.
Scammers are offering to sell people fake, at-home COVID-19 test kits. They pretend to be charities collecting funds for COVID-19 victims and families. They offer people bogus investment opportunities in companies that sell “treatments” or “cures.”
Attorney General Raoul’s office is working proactively with the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division to warn people about COVID-19 related scams so that people are not victimized.
The scams often start with a phone call, text or email that looks or sounds legitimate, Raoul stated.
“Don’t open surprise emails that look like they’re coming from the IRS or click on attachments or links,” Raoul said. “The IRS will not call you, or email or text you to verify your financial, banking or personal information.”
Raoul has formed a task force in the attorney general’s office to deal with all the scams related to getting people’s unemployment insurance payments.
“That arises from somebody getting personal information either from a data breach or from folks mistakenly providing the criminals with information themselves,” Raoul said.
If you get a phone call or text where somebody is trying to sell you something, don’t engage with the caller, Raoul advises.
If you get a suspicious email with the words “stimulus” or “coronavirus,” do not open it. Forward it to the IRS Criminal Division at [email protected]
To report a scam, contact one of the Illinois attorney general’s office Consumer Fraud Hotlines. 1-800-386-5438 (Chicago); 1-800-243-0618 (Springfield); 1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale). Línea Gratuita en Español 1-866-310-8398. 1-800-964-3013 (TTY).