coronavirus pandemic

Californians Lost $44 Million to Coronavirus Scams, FTC Says

NBC 7 Responds looks at the newest data from the Federal Trade Commission.

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Scams are taking advantage of people's fears over the coronavirus pandemic, finances, and other related worries. Now the Federal Trade Commission says there have been more than 330,000 reports of scams across the nation.

"I think the scammers cast a wide net," said Colleen Tressler with the FTC. "They see who they can catch and unfortunately, in this instance, it's been a real issue."

Data from the FTC shows fraud cost Californians alone nearly $45 million. The cost to the entire country was much higher, totaling more than $332 million.

Tressler says these scams take a lot of forms, but now they are trying to profit off the vaccines for COVID-19.

"They will be making phone calls, they will be sending texts, they will be sending emails," said Tressler. "Some people are bold enough to knock on your door."

The FTC warns that some of these scams aren't just after your money, but are also trying to get personal information that could be used to steal your identity.

If you receive a seemingly random offer, take a second to evaluate it. One current scam could promise to get you a spot in line for a vaccine if you pay them.

"That's a red flag," said Tressler. "You can't get to the head of the line by paying anyone a fee."

If you ever have questions about the information someone has sent you, even if it is an email forwarded by a friend or family member, Tressler says verify it. You can reach out to the state or local health department, or your own doctor.

"When they start asking for personal information, like your social security number, your bank account number, your credit card number, those are all red flags," said Tressler. "You always need to do your own homework."

If you think you have been targeted by one of these scams you can report it to the FTC.

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