OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Federal agencies and consumer activists are sounding the alarm on new COVID-19 scams targeting grieving families and the push to get our country back open.
As the world slowly opens, so does the opportunity for fraud.
Kitt Letcher with the Better Business Bureau spoke with our team, advising folks to watch out for fake vaccine passports.
“Other countries are working on a passport, and typically what they’ve actually looked like are apps that are on your phone,” said Kitt. “The U.S. government is not currently issuing an app, so this is where we need consumers to be really careful, if they are receiving text messages, calls emails saying you have to have this app.”
Should you sign up for such an app, legit or not, it could call for highly personal information.
“So it’s a tool that we could potentially see scammers using to get people’s Social Security number, their Medicare ID information, banking information,” said Kitt. “Just a variety of things that makes them susceptible.”
The second alert is possibly a new low for fraudsters, says the Federal Trade Commission.
With nearly 570,000 Americans lost to COVID-19, FEMA is offering funeral aid. But before a single application was accepted, fraudsters took advantage.
“We’re getting a lot of reports of people reaching out to other people, saying, ‘Hey, we can register you with FEMA, and some might have been offering to do it for a fee,” said Earl Armstrong, FEMA Region 6 Spokesperson. “Unfortunately, disaster or something like this just brings those folks out from wherever they are hiding.”
Consumers need to understand, in both of these instances, officials won’t be calling/emailing/texting you directly.
“You have to call FEMA,” noted Earl. “If anyone says they can do it for ya, don’t do it, that’s a fraud.”
Letcher adds that you should never feel pressured to share personal info over the phone or money through an app.
For more information on the funeral relief program, go to www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.