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Watch out for stimulus check, coronavirus scams

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Posted at 4:32 AM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 14:27:34-04

MILWAUKEE — While we are at home, scammers are hard at work trying to get your attention.

TMJ4 News found the top four ways criminals are preying on people’s coronavirus fears to steal your money during this vulnerable time.

TMJ4 News’ Call 4 Action Office is getting flooded with COVID-19 related complaints.

“About five fold,” said Karen Stiles, “Just unbelievable, and all very, very valid stuff.”

The first scam is the newest: Fake stimulus checks.

Crooks will call or email you, claiming to be with the federal government. Stiles says you will get your “stimulus check” after you give them your checking account and social security numbers.

“Don’t fall for it the only way that you’re going to get this information is by official information from the federal government. The federal government already has all that especially if you’re filing your taxes every year," said Stiles.

Number two: Price gouging.

Local businesses have been caught with the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin price gouging cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers.

Jim Temmer with our Wisconsin's BBB says they have found some of the prices were risen by 400 percent.

“We have seen gas stations actually convenience stores not chain wide but specific individuals if you have people out there who are finding price gouging," said Temmer.

Temmer says they are actively working with the Federal Trade Commission and The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to investigate each claim to see if fines and prosecution should follow.

Number three: Mask shortage scams.

This hits at the heart of the COVID-19 problem. Temmer says fake ads are popping up through social media and email, claiming to be businesses with plenty of masks in stock.

“And they never come, because its fake. They have a fake website set up, they have no real supply of masks. They have photographs from other websites, and people send their money and then they take it," said Temmer.

Temmer says you can get up to $50 dollars of that money back, if you call up your credit card company and tell them you never received your order. You may be out of luck though if you paid by debit.

The fourth scam: Someone claiming to be with the Centers for Disease Control.

Criminals will call you posing as a government official claiming someone in your neighborhood tested positive for COVID-19, and they need your social security number to keep you safe. Don’t fall for this. The best thing to do is not to answer a number you do not recognize.

If you would like help or file a report, click here to contact the Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin or click here to contact TMJ4 News Call 4 Action office.

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