Beware of Coronavirus fraud, scams and schemes

We Stand with you

By Chuck Jones

People who want to commit fraud against us – and particularly the elderly – aren’t sticking to the Coronavirus stay-at-home policy when it comes to trying to steal your money.

In fact, if anything, they are intensifying their efforts during this growing pandemic.

It is important that you and your family members practice social distancing from the scammers and protect yourselves against their criminal activities. 

The FBI says beware of phone calls, texts, social media contacts or emails demanding personal or financial information to verify your eligibility for the government’s $1,200 federal stimulus check.

If someone claims they must have your Social Security number, bank account number or any other personal information to sign you up for a stimulus check, don’t do it!  It’s a scam. 

Here in Arkansas, the state attorney general’s office warns that con artists are even going door-to-door to take advantage of frightened senior citizens who are staying home to prevent infection and avoid spreading the virus.

The AG’s office says criminals posing as employees of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control may knock on your door and offer to scan you for the Coronavirus virus at a cost of $50.

These con artists, who are not licensed medical professionals, might swab your nasal cavity and pretend to perform a medical test while you watch.  To obtain your “test results,” the scammers ask for your banking information, including credit and debit card numbers, and Social Security number.

The attorney general’s office has confirmed that the CDC is not going door-to-door for testing. Arkansas residents encountering someone at their door stating that they are there to test them for the Coronavirus virus should immediately call local law enforcement and also file a consumer complaint with the attorney general’s office.

Arkansas residents encountering demands for personal information in order to to receive federal funds or other assistance should immediately contact the Arkansas attorney general’s office by visiting www.ArkansasAG.gov, or call 800-482-8982.

Additionally, fraudsters have already begun targeting business owners negatively impacted by the current economic downturn and who may need financial assistance from federal programs through the Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury Department.  If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the SBA, you should suspect fraud because the agency doesn’t initiate contact for loans or grants.

Small business owners who need help might instead explore Citizens Bank’s “People First Financial Protection Program.”  Citizens Bank is very experienced with all forms of government programs and can help you pick the right program for you and your business. 

The People First Financial Protection Program also offers assistance for individuals who are experiencing financial difficulties due to the virus pandemic.

To enroll in the program or to obtain additional information, access the Citizens Bank website at www.thecitizensbank.net/Covid-19-Help, or call the bank at 844-350-8512.