The Lacey Township Police Department would like to warn our residents about the numerous phishing attempts and scams.
It is not new for people to be taken advantage of, even in times of crisis. Unfortunately, the current situation involving COVID-19 is no different. As we have all adjusted to new protocols involving employment and daily life, so have the scammers that prey on the public. The need for adapting to meet needs while social distancing, has increased the use of the internet to accomplish tasks. This has its own inherent security risks which some are not aware of. Additionally, the timing of certain requirements, which include tax returns and stimulus checks, have opened the doors for new scam opportunities.
The Internal Revenue Service has urged taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft. Taxpayers should watch not only for emails but text messages, websites and social media attempts that request money or personal information.
The IRS reminds taxpayers that scammers may:
- Emphasize the words “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The official term is economic impact payment.
- Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
- Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
- Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer’s behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
- Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it
For more information related to these scams, click the link below.
Additionally the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also warning the public that scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. The Federal Trade Commission continues its work protecting consumers, providing guidance to businesses, and protecting competition in the marketplace throughout the pandemic. Staff are working remotely and events that are not postponed are being held via webcast.
Here are some tips provided by the FTC to help you keep the scammers at bay:
- Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
- Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
- Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
- Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
For further information regarding the FTC and tips to help avoid scams, please visit the following links.
The Lacey Township Police Department urges the public to remain vigilant and protect themselves from all forms of scams. If you have any questions regarding scams, please contact either Detective Sergeant Samuel DellaSala at 609-693-6636 ext. 2582, or Detective Charles May, at 609-693-6636 ext. 2591.
-Chief Michael C. DiBella