Local law enforcement in Story County including the sheriff’s office are encouraging residents to be on the look out for potential COVID-19 related scams, officials said.
Although both Story County Sheriff’s Office and the Ames Police Department have not yet received a call related to COVID-19 scams, the law enforcement agencies want to be ahead of the game by informing the public on what other agencies have been witnessing, Story County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Nick Lennie said.
“We wanted to be on the front end of of a possible uptick in these types of scams, so we wanted to start educating the public [by] giving them warning of what to look for,” Lennie said.
The Iowa’s Attorney General office first sent out a notice on March 10 asking Iowans to be on the look out for price gauging and COVID-19 related scams.
As of Tuesday, there have been minimal reports of scams related to COVID-19 to the Story County Sheriff’s Office, Lennie said.
In Ames, the police department has had no reports about scams related to COVID-19 Ames Police Cmdr. Jason Tuttle said.
Both Departments are still, however, receiving consistent reports about scams not related to COVID-19, officials said.
The Story County Sheriff’s Office is asking residents to be aware of following criteria in detecting a COVID-19 related scam:Government officials will not ask for your personal information. Ignore solicitations for personal or financial information via phone, email, or text.Do not trust the call ID number; with current technology, it is common for a scammer to make it appear the call is from a legitimate number.Do not fall prey to fake cures and treatments for COVID-19, as these can be extremely harmful to your health. Only accept medical treatment or virus testing from your doctor, pharmacist, or local health department.Be cautious with work-from-home schemes. Many fraudulent work-from-home scams will require you to pay them first in return for a job. Legitimate jobs will not ask you to pay them.Scammers will often post as someone you would trust, such as a family member, bank, or law enforcement official. Be suspicious of any calls received asking for money or personal informationScammers will pressure you to make decisions in a hurry and might even threaten you. Slow down, call someone you trust, and verify the information before proceeding.
Local law enforcement agencies are worried now that the economic stimulus checks of $1,200 have been issued to some, and believe it will cause an increase in the amount of scams reported.
Law enforcement officials want residents that the IRS will not refer to the check as a, “stimulus check” and will never contact someone by phone.
“If there’s any communication from the IRS about the economic impact statement or payment. It’s going to be worded that way. They’re not going to use the word stimulus check or stimulus pay payment,” Lennie said. “Those are a couple red flag words if [someone is] getting an email with those describing it as stimulus check or stimulus payment, it’s not from the IRS.”
If you have been a received a call you believe to be a scam or have become a victim law enforcement encourages you to report it immediately, Lennie said.