Scam Alert!

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2020

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While citizens locally, statewide and across the nation are working overtime to protect themselves and their families safe from the effects of COVID-19, there are others waiting to prey on the emotional strain caused by the virus.

Scammers are using this health pandemic to rob individuals of their money as well as steal their identity. The scams include offering free test kits, providing discounts on sanitation supplies, and even trying to peddle financial relief through lower mortgage rates.

Scammers are also using text messages to lure in their victims. One that is currently circulating in North Carolina reads: “Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 and recommends you self-isolate/get tested. More at”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning the public to be on the lookout for these scams. They are advising citizens not to respond to texts, emails or calls about checks from the government.

Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. There are no products proven to treat or prevent COVID-19 at this time.

Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes.

Watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) or WHO (World Health Organization). Use sites like and to get the latest information. And don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.

Do your homework when it comes to donations. Never donate in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money.

Cristina Miranda of the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education provided examples of imposter scams using COVID-19.

Medicare scams – Scammers might call to offer things like a “COVID-19 kit,” “Coronavirus package,” or Medicare benefits related to the virus. But they’ll ask you to verify personal information like your bank account, Social Security, or Medicare numbers. If you get a call from someone who says they’re a Medicare representative and they ask for this information, hang up. It’s a scam, not Medicare calling. Report it to the FTC at

Relief payment messages from “government agencies” – The FTC is getting a lot of reports about fraudulent calls, texts, and emails coming from people pretending to be from the Social Security Administration, IRS, Census, USCIS and the FDIC. These fake government messages might say that you’re approved for money, can get quick relief payments, or get cash grants due to the coronavirus.

Scammers might also promise you small business loans, or send a (phishing) alert that a check is ready to be picked up. These are all scams, and none of those messages come from a government agency.

If you respond to these calls or messages, they might ask you for money, personal information, or both. Don’t give it. And remember that the surest sign of a scam is anyone who asks you to send cash, pay with a gift card, wire money, or pay with cryptocurrency.

Stay on top of all types of imposter scams by visiting, and sign up for the FTC’s Consumer Alerts to get the latest on all kinds of scams.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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