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Avoid coronavirus scams

Scammers are using the coronavirus to scare people into sharing their personal information. Do not fall for these false claims. Avoid sharing your personal information with anyone you do not know.

Information on the COVID-19 webpages changes frequently and is updated regularly. Check back often for the most up-to-date information.

Review these common coronavirus scams and tips to avoid them.

​Avoid sharing your personal or financial information based on panic or fear. There are no miracle cures or approved vaccines at this time. Do not accept financial help from anyone you do not know and trust.

Follow these tips to avoid these claims:


Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is no such thing as a guaranteed return on investment. There are always risks. Do your homework and ask three questions before making any investment:

  • Is the investment being offered with a guaranteed high return with little or no risk?
  • Is there a sense of urgency or limited availability surrounding the investment?
  • Is the person offering the investment, and the investment itself, licensed or registered?

​ A common scam email claims to let you download a coronavirus map. It is a scam that will download a malicious app or file onto your computer. It pretends to be the Johns Hopkins dashboard to make viewers think they are getting an official coronavirus dashboard.

Do NOT download an app to view the dashboard.Credible dashboards can be viewed through your browser.

To view the official online dashboard with map posted by Johns Hopkins University, go to: coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

To view the official online dashboard specific to Oregon, go to:  experience.arcgis.com/experience/fff9f83827c5461583cd014fdf4587de ​​​​​


Fraudsters are posing as OSHA compliance officers and attempt to issue thousands of dollars in fines and demand immediate cash payments. That is not how Oregon OSHA operates. Keep these things in mind:

  • There is never a demand for immediate cash payment of a proposed fine.
  • Compliance officers will present their credentials to owner representatives, operators, or agents in charge at workplaces.
  • It typically takes two weeks following the closing of an inspection for the division to issue citations or fines. The actual penalties for any particular violation involves a number of factors.

For more information about Oregon OSHA workplace guidance and resources related to the COVID-19 outbreak, visit https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/re/covid-19.aspx.​​​​

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Fake mobile banking apps install malware that steals your bank or credit union information and personal information.

  • Install a bank app only from your bank or credit union’s web site.
  • Use two-factor authentication.
  • If you have been a victim of a fake banking app, report it to www.oregonconsumer.gov.
  • When in doubt, check with your bank or credit union.​

Fake contact tracers send texts or emails to consumers who may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. The fake tracers tell consumers to open a link that installs malware to steal their personal information from their device. Fake tracers may call you to try to steal your personal information.

Legitimate tracers:

  • Work for the local or state public health department and contact you only by phone or letter.
  • Never ask for your Social Security number, billing information, or bank or credit card number.
  • ​Will not ask your immigration status.

​Fraudsters can use your Social Security number to file bogus unemployment claims in your name.​

A more than 15 percent price increase on essential items, like milk or eggs, is probably gouging. Report the retailer at ​www.oregonconsumer.gov.​​

There are many fake online companies promising low-cost sanitizing products or high-quality masks.

  • If you do not recognize the company, do not use it.
  • Buy only from trusted sources.​
  • If you are a victim of a fake online company, report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.

​​Scammers pose as the IRS to get your banking information and put a fake deposit of an amount more than the stimulus payment in your bank or credit union account. Then, they tell you they overpaid you and you must send the “excess” money back to them. After you send them the money, your bank or credit union realizes the original deposit was fake, and you are out the money you sent the scammer. Remember:

  • The IRS will not overpay you.
  • Legitimate agencies do not ask you to send them money using gift cards, prepaid cards, or wire transfers. Scammers use those tools because they are hard to trace and almost impossible to stop.
  • Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission ​and your bank or credit union.

​​Many scammers are posing as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Social Security Administration, or the IRS. They threaten consumers with legal action if consumers do not give them personal information. Federal government agencies will not call you like that. They will send you an official letter in the U.S. mail when they need to communicate with you.​

Scammers are using phony pet adoptions to solicit money online. These scams may involve upfront fees or require advanced payment. Use these tips to avoid being a victim of a pet adoption scam:​​

  • Research the price of the breed. Remember, if the price for the breed seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Avoid sending payments by money transfer, gift card, or prepaid debit card.

To learn more about pet adoption scams, visit the AARP Pet scams resource page.

​Rental scams are nothing new, but physical distancing has provided scammers with the opportunity to request an online payment while avoiding meeting in person. Scammers can even hack the lock box on a property and provide the victim with a self-guided tour of a unit that is unavailable.​​

  • Research the rental company online. If you cannot find the company or if you find negative reviews, reconsider.
  • If you visit the property in person, look for rental signs with a phone number for the property owner or manager.

To learn more about avoiding rental scams, visit the the Federal Trade Commission's rental scams resource page.​

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