With the coronavirus vaccine spread across the country, United States attorney Peter M. McCoy Jr. is warning South Carolinians to be on high alert if scammers attempt to take advantage of the pandemic.
“Every South Carolinian should be extra careful if they have seen COVID-19-related shipping, vendor, commercial, phishing and even charity fraud related to COVID-19 across the country,” said US attorney McCoy . “Everyone, especially seniors and their caretakers, should be on high alert when fraudsters try to take advantage of their most vulnerable neighbors.”
In early December, it was reported that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had already received over 250,000 COVID-19-related consumer complaints, two-thirds of which related to fraud or identity theft.
“Be it through robocalls, texts, emails or other means of communication, the potential for continued coronavirus scams could be as widespread as the disease itself,” US attorney McCoy continued. “Not only do these criminals harass the recipient of the fraud, they can cast doubts on many others to trust the legitimate work of honest, reliable providers.”
US attorney McCoy wants the South Carolinians to know that the best defense against coronavirus scams is vigilance. He knows that criminals have multiple methods to take advantage of others. He urges everyone:
• Know that you cannot pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine or to get early access to the vaccine.
• Know that no legitimate vaccine distribution location or health payer like a private insurance company will ask for your social security, bank, or credit card numbers to sign up for the vaccine.
• Beware of vendors who offer other products, treatments, or drugs to prevent the virus. Ask your doctor before paying for or receiving any COVID-19 related treatment.
• Never send money or give your Social Security number, date of birth, bank account numbers, credit card and expiration dates to unknown companies or people.
• Know that the IRS will never ask for your social or banking information over the phone.
• If you have been a victim, do not be ashamed or afraid to report it. Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or online at www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
US attorney McCoy stressed his office’s obligation to stop the criminals before more victims of their crimes can be.
“Together with law enforcement partners, the US attorney general will work to fully identify, investigate and prosecute those who try to defraud their neighbors during this pandemic,” McCoy concluded.
From the office of U.S. attorney Peter M. McCoy Jr.
District of South Carolina