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How can I avoid common COVID-19 scams?
NOTE: The Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has warned of an increase in contact tracing scams via text. New Jersey contact tracers will never ask for your social security number or sensitive financial details like your bank or credit card number. For more information about the State's contact tracing efforts, how it stops the spread of COVID-19, and why it's so important to answer the phone when they call, visit the NJ COVID-19 Testing and Tracing portal.
The New Jersey COVID-19 Fraud Task Force, a joint federal-state effort to investigate and prosecute unlawful and misleading activities related to COVID-19, has provided the following recommendations to avoid common COVID-19 related scams:
- Independently verify the identity of any company, charity, or individual that contacts you regarding COVID-19.
- Check the websites and email addresses offering information, products, or services related to COVID-19. Be aware that scammers often employ addresses that differ only slightly from those belonging to the entities they are impersonating. For example, they might use "cdc.com" or "cdc.org" instead of "cdc.gov."
- Be wary of unsolicited emails offering information, supplies, or treatment for COVID-19 or requesting your personal information for medical purposes. Legitimate health authorities will not contact the general public this way.
- Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources. Doing so could download a virus onto your computer or device.
- Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is operating and up to date.
- Ignore offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure, or treatment. Remember, if there is a medical breakthrough, you won't hear about it for the first time through an email, online ad, or unsolicited sales pitch.
- Check online reviews of any company offering COVID-19 products or supplies. Avoid companies whose customers have complained about not receiving items.
- Research any charities or crowdfunding sites soliciting donations in connection with COVID- 19 before giving. Remember, an organization may not be legitimate even if it uses words like "CDC" or "government" in its name or has reputable looking seals or logos on its materials. For online resources on donating wisely, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website.
- Be wary of any business, charity, or individual requesting payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail. Don't send money through any of these channels.
- Be cautious of "investment opportunities" tied to COVID-19, especially those based on claims that a small company's products or services can help stop the virus. If you decide to invest, carefully research the investment beforehand. For information on how to avoid investment fraud, visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website.
To report any instance of price gouging, hoarding of medical supplies, charity scams, procurement fraud, scam calls, or any other related unlawful activity, please file a complaint online with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs or call 973-504-6240. Consumers should leave their name, contact information, nature of the complaint and the name and address of the business.
Note: Please note that violations of Executive Order No. 107, as described below, should still be reported at https://covid19.nj.gov/violation.
Executive Order 107 requires:
- non-essential retail businesses to close
- all businesses or non-profits in the State, whether closed or open to the public, must accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements
- the cancellation of all gatherings of individuals, such as parties, celebrations, or other social events.
Additionally, through a joint effort of New Jersey law enforcement and various emergency preparedness entities, a COVID-19 Rumor Control and Disinformation page has been created for the general public. For more information, visit the Rumor Control and Disinformation Page.