AG Stein warns against phony COVID-19 charities, other scams

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As if you didn’t have enough to worry about as you deal with keeping safe from the Coronavirus—now you have to be concerned about criminals who are using the virus to steal your money.

The NC Attorney General is warning people to look out for phony COVID-19 charities and other scams.

A crisis like the coronavirus pandemic is when we see scams blossom because the scammers are opportunists—and if they can frighten you sufficiently, they’ll be able to easily defraud you.

One of the easiest ways to steal your money in times like this is through fake charities.

“The natural human reaction is compassion and wanting to help,” said Attorney General Josh Stein.

Online, there have been reports of scam emails trying to con people into donating to fake fundraising efforts, for example–claiming to be a government program to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

“When we give, we want our money to go where we want it to go and not line the pockets of a criminal,” said Stein.

When it comes to charities, don’t be fooled by a nice-sounding name. Instead, check them out.

There are websites designed to help you determine the real from the fake charity.

Use GuideStar, Give.org, or Charitywatch to check charity websites claiming to help Coronavirus victims, or to raise money for various cornavirus efforts.

To avoid being scammed:

  • Don’t respond to unsolicited emails or texts
  • Don’t give phone solicitors any credit card or personal info
  • Don’t give cash

The BBB can also help you figure out if a fake charity or scam is operating in your area with its scam-tracker website.

Here’s one scam consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia discovered on the scam tracker website.

It claimed because of COVID-19, the government is increasing social security benefits by $105, but you need to verify your personal information and social security number information by calling a special hotline to be eligible.

The Attorney General warns that is phishing and to beware of stuff like that.

“That is a scam,” said Stein. “They’re trying to steal your money.”

The best advice, if you want to donate money stick with known charities you’ve dealt with in the past.

Don’t fall for a sob story from someone who approaches you by phone or via social media.

Be very suspicious and do your research first before you open your wallet.

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