Originally on CBS 17

March 30, 2020

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein issued a stern, yet simple warning to North Carolinians amid the COVID-19 outbreak: hang up on scammers.

As North Carolinians work to stay healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stein said scammers are looking to take advantage of their fears. 

Stein said his office has received information from federal partners about robocalls and text message scams offering bogus miracle cures, free at-home test kits, updates from government authorities, and home cleaning that scammers claim will reduce your risk of getting COVID-19.

Some robocallers may also be offering help obtaining stimulus checks from the federal government.

Scammers are working to take advantage of people’s fears to steal their money and personal information. Our office is working hard to protect consumers, and we want you to be able to avoid coronavirus scams.

The best way to protect yourself is to follow these tips:

  • Watch out for unsolicited messages and calls. Never respond to texts or calls from unknown numbers. Take care to avoid clicking links, paying for products, or giving personal information to an untrusted solicitor. Know that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money. If you want information and the updates on government efforts related to COVID-19, contact your local government office, or go directly to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services [ncdhhs.gov] or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [cdc.gov].
  • Be skeptical of “miracle cures” and testing offers. Ignore unsolicited offers for vaccinations, pharmaceuticals, and medicines that promise to cure COVID-19 or prevent you from getting the virus to begin with. Some scammers have reportedly targeted individuals who are high-risk to contract COVID-19. According to medical experts, no such cure-all product exists. Before you purchase a product or a service, check with a doctor. Remember, as all scams go – if it’s too good to be true – it probably is.
  • Don’t let anyone rush you. Avoid sales offers that are only good “now or never.” Fears about the spread of coronavirus mean that many people are making decisions under pressure – walk away from high-pressure sales pitches or cure-all promises. You should never feel like you have to make a decision or share financial information under pressure.

If a company contacts you and you’re unsure of their authenticity or if you believe that you have been the victim of a scam, contact the office’s Consumer Protection Division at ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint [ncdoj.gov] or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.