Scams During the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Crisis

This resource contains common questions and information about scams during the COVID-19 crisis for Tampa Bay area residents including Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee, and Sarasota counties.

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Is sheltering-in-place getting to you?

Do you feel like you get so much information about COVID-19 that you don’t know who or what to believe?

That's exactly what the scammers are hoping – that you’re lonely, confused, and ready for some good news… even if it isn’t true

Scammers and fraudsters are hawking products like:

Home test kits, supplements, cures, vaccines, air filtration systems, access to tests or medications. Unfortunately, there are no FDA-approved home test kits, cures or vaccines for the novel coronavirus or sufficient evidence that air filtration systems can prevent or cure the virus. Even if you get the product you ordered (and many get NOTHING), it is unlikely to work as promised.

Investment advice, low-interest financial products, mortgage and debt relief. Legitimate government relief is provided through the CARES Act, but there are many fraudulent offers “to help.” Job loss, uncertainty about the economy, and a roller-coaster stock market set the stage for these particular scams.

How are scammers making contact?

Telephone, text, email, snail-mail, and in person, door-to-door.

What can scammers get when they do this?

Your money—at least (and sometimes access to your accounts and your sensitive personal information)

How can I protect myself?

  • Do NOT click on any links in an email, a text message, or an ad that comes from someone you do not know.
  • Do NOT trust Caller ID or email addresses which claim to be from a government agency like the IRS or Social Security. This is not the way these agencies contact you, and these messages are from imposters.
  • Do NOT give out ANY sensitive personal information (like your Social Security number, your Medicare number, your bank account or credit card number, or your driver’s license number).
  • Do NOT push any button on your phone when directed to do so by a robo (automatic) caller even if they say that’s how you can disconnect. Just hang up.
  • Do NOT open your door to a solicitor, especially now when contact with anyone outside of your household should be avoided whenever possible.

What should I do if I have a scam or fraud complaint?

Report fraud to:

  • Florida Attorney General’s Office: at (866) 966-7726 or MyFloridaLegal.com
  • Federal Trade Commission: (877) 382-4357 or FTC.gov
  • The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at (800) 366-4484

Last updated: May 7, 2020

Still have questions?

If you live or have a case in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas or Sarasota counties, we may be able to help.

How do I apply? Am I eligible?

Call (800) 625-2257

to apply for service.

Or complete our online application

and we will call you back.