COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Whether it be an email from someone claiming to be the CDC, or even price gouging toilet paper, the coronavirus has forced all of us to be vigilant about even more than washing our hands.
Scams have popped up all over the country. Earlier this week, in Louisville, Kentucky, a group set up a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site complete with signage and workers head to toe in personal protective equipment. Only, these workers weren’t protecting; instead, they were preying on people with a fake testing site.
“If anyone hears of something like this, please let us know right away,” said Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health. “It’s a travesty of this time.”
These scam artists in Louisville were taking people’s insurance information and doing testing swabs – meaning they then had people’s DNA.
This was just about 200 miles from Columbus, so not far at all. Acton wants everyone to be on guard and said there is a quick way to know if a testing site is real: in Ohio, a patient has to have paperwork to get a test.
“No one can be getting testing right now in Ohio without the help of their physician or primary care person, maybe it’s a nurse practitioner,” she explained. “It’s done going through the patient medical record, don’t let anyone take advantage of you that way.”
“I mean they try to scam us a lot of times for buying these masks that aren’t true,” added Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted. “There are all kinds of those things going on. People who violate trust at a time like this are particularly a bad group of people and they should be turned over to law enforcement.”
Governor Mike DeWine said it’s unfortunate that during a time of struggle, people choose to take advantage of others; but he also knows, those people are very much the minority.
“My experience has been in crisis Ohioans usually rise to the occasion, whether that’s a tornado, a flood, bad fire whatever it is, you see neighbors coming in and you see total strangers coming into help,” he said.
Ohio Attorney General David Yost is staying up to date with the different scams happening across the country and he has some tips on how to keep yourself safe.
- Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Legitimate information is available for free on the CDC’s website
- Beware of online ads promoting cures for coronavirus. There are currently no FDA-approved cures on the market.
- Make sure to research nonprofit organizations and crowdfunding campaigns before donating. A database of registered charities is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website
- Never donate via cash, gift cards, wire transfer or prepaid money card. These are the preferred payment methods of scammers. Also, avoid groups that pressure you to donate.
- Contact law enforcement immediately if a suspicious person comes to your door offering coronavirus testing, temperature readings or requests your personal information. Never let strangers into your home.
- If you get an email from someone claiming to be your bank or a government agency, confirm they are legitimate by calling the organization at a phone number you have verified.
Yost also wants to hear about price gauging. If you suspect unfair business practices contact the Attorney General’s office at www.OhioProtects.org or 1-800-282-0515.