Scott Johnson

I think the number of e-mails police chiefs receive has about doubled since the pandemic hit. I bet each day there are twenty new e-mails offering to sell the police department COVID-19 protective supplies. The problem is we have never heard of most of these companies and the supplies are overpriced and would probably never be delivered. There are the unscrupulous that want to take advantage of people’s concerns to make quick profits, including illegal profits. I planned to write about this in this column, until I received an e-mail from ElderCircle.

ElderCircle has published a very comprehensive list of these frauds that primarily target older adults in our community. It is worth making sure that everyone in our community is aware of them. So, with their permission, I would like to share them with you to make sure you are not a victim of these scams.

Counterfeit Stimulus Checks: You might receive what appears to be an authentic check, but is actually fake. Included will be a number to call to verify your information. Providing this information to them is simply a way for them to gain access to your checking account so they can take your money or use your personal information to secure credit cards and other documents.

IRS Scams: Someone calls you pretending to be from the IRS saying that they need your financial information in order for you to receive your stimulus check. Don’t fall for this! The IRS has told us that they will never call you unless they are returning your call. They will also not contact you via text message or on social media.

Fake COVID Vaccines/Test Kits: Someone might try to sell you test kits or other products that they say you can use to test for the virus or that will prevent the virus. These might be vaccines, pills with high doses of Vitamin C or some kind of air filter system that they say will remove COVID-19 from the air in your home. There is no cure or vaccine for this virus at this time and testing is only available from your medical professional. None of these are delivered to your house.

Errands-Grocery-shopping/Medication Pick-up: Be careful of someone you don’t know calling to offer to run errands for you such as grocery shopping and picking up medications or other supplies. These individuals will take your cash and never be seen again, leaving you empty-handed.

Scams Targeting Your Social Security Benefits: Someone calls you to say that, due to COVID-19, your Social Security benefits will be decreased or suspended unless you provide personal information or send them money to maintain regular benefit payments during this period. Whether by text, email or letter, any communication saying that you will not receive your benefits due to COVID-19 is a scam.

Online Shopping: Many of us are now going online to buy groceries, medical masks and cleaning supplies. Please be sure to purchase these goods directly from an established store or legitimate internet service.

Church Scam: This one has struck in Grand Rapids a couple of times. Typically, parishioners receive an e-mail claiming to be from their local pastor asking for money for a legitimate purpose related to the pandemic. This will be centered around helping those in need. One version asks that cash gift cards be purchased. Unfortunately, the e-mail does not really come from the church. When in doubt, call the church.

These are many of the scams out there but not all of them. Please do as ElderCircle has done and make sure your family members and friends are aware of them.

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