COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Criminals are using COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments (EIP) as cover for schemes to steal personal information and money.
A special agent, stationed in Washington D.C., said fraud is at its highest when financial information is at its most vulnerable, because of the extreme financial circumstances people are under during the pandemic. In part because people are utilizing online banking, purchasing, and benefits enrollment.
Resources to detect and report fraud
- Ohio Attorney General Fraud Reporting
- Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio
- Internal Revenue Service
- National Center for Disaster Fraud
There is a more direct approach also. Bogus companies claim they have a cure for COVID-19, and others are asking you to invest in vaccine creation. If they reach out to you, don’t buy it, warns the Internal Revenue Service (IRS.)
The IRS Criminal Investigator says even fake charities are being setup. The financial vulnerability that is being felt throughout the nation has inspired groups to be created that are founded on compassion, and others forged with selfish intent. This is similar to other deceptive practices of what has been seen in the wake of other national crises.
The scams run the gamut right now. It reminds me also like 9-11. There were lots of scams that came as a result. There’s a lot of money out there. There’s a lot of programs that are set up to help those that are truly in need of financial help, you’re going to see fraud.Kelly Jackson, Special Agent for Washington D.C. field officer of IRS Criminal Investigation
It is important to note that the IRS does not send emails, texts or calls. So, if you get one of those posing as the IRS, know that it is bogus.
Jackson explained that we need to become our own advocate and be willing to investigate. If a company sounds fishy, look it up.