COVID-19: DON'T BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF
If you received an email from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the coronavirus outbreak, would you click on a link? If someone came to your door offering a test, would you give them money? Criminals are counting on it. We want to help protect you, your identity and your pocketbook. Please see the tips below and watch the video at the bottom of this page.
* ALERT: JANUARY 21, 2021: District Attorney: Be Alert for Scams Related to COVID-19 Vaccines
San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen M. Wagstaffe today advised residents to be alert for scams related to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Scammers may try to exploit the uncertainty and anxiety associated with emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic to take people’s money or steal their identities. County residents should be alert to potential scams, including the following:
- Someone offers to move you into an earlier group to get the vaccine for a fee.
- Someone tries to sell you a place on a COVID vaccine waiting list.
- Someone on the street, online, on social media, or knocking on your door tries to sell you a shot of vaccine.
* ALERT: AUGUST 12, 2020: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is currently tracking an unknown malicious cyber actor who is spoofing the Small Business Administration (SBA) COVID-19 relief webpage via phishing emails. These emails include a malicious link to a fake page used for malicious re-directs and credential stealing.
Small business owners and organizations at all levels should review the alert and apply the recommended mitigations to strengthen the security posture of their systems. We encourage you to share this alert with anyone who might be able to use it. *
* ALERT: JUNE 16, 2020: District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe warns citizens about a contact tracing scam.
Remember, official contact tracers will never ask for your Social Security number, or your financial or health insurance information.
To learn more, watch this video or click on the PDF toward the bottom of this page.*
COVID-19 ONLINE SCAMS
Scammers are taking advantage of COVID-19 fears with websites selling fake products and using false emails and social media to collect your money and personal information. Particularly alarming are emails about vaccines, home test kits, investment opportunities and more that appear to be from trusted business partners, government or public institutions but are really attempts to unleash malware. Stay safe and protected!
HOW DO I KNOW IF AN EMAIL IS LEGITIMATE OR A SCAM?
- Do not open suspicious emails. When in doubt, throw it out!
- Approach email links with caution
- Beware of “special” offers. An “exclusive COVID-19 cure for $150" is not a reliable or trustworthy opportunity and is most likely fraud.
- Beware of lookalike domains, spelling errors in emails or websites and unfamiliar email senders
- There is currently no vaccine. Scientists are working on this, so do not fall for vaccine offers.
- There are currently no home test kits for COVID-19
- You cannot pay to be on a list to be the first to receive a vaccine. Do not give anyone or any organization money who claims this is legitimate.
- Be cautious of any claims of medical aid or cures, even those with alleged patient testimonials. Questionable and untested products can cost you money and potentially your health. Consult your medical provider before using any product that makes such claims.
- Be wary of “investment opportunities” for companies working on vaccines or cures as well as offers for crowdfunding
In California, all legitimate charities and professional fundraisers must register with the California State Attorney General, Charitable Trusts Section. You can check a charity’s legitimacy using the Attorney General’s Registry Verification Search: http://rct.doj.ca.gov/Verification/Web/Search.aspx?facility=Y
We also want to hear from you about possible price gouging on consumer food items or goods and emergency supplies, which is illegal during a declared local emergency. Price gouging is the raising of prices more than 10 percent. Please report any incidents to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.
The California Attorney General’s Office also has helpful Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about price gouging in the state.
To report potential scams:
San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office: (650) 363-4651 or email@example.com. You can also file a complaint form:
State Attorney General’s Office consumer complaint against a business/company:
Federal Trade Commission Complaint Assistant: