Stay Alert for Coronavirus Scams

Know what types of scams are circulating and how to avoid becoming a victim.

A senior man wearing a light blue shirt and watch sits in his home and looks at his laptop with concern

How to recognize signs of a scam

An email drops into your inbox with a subject line that reads…
RE: Beat COVID-19 with this hot new remedy!

Your phone rings …
The caller asks if you need more in-demand sanitizer supplies before they run out!

An online ad pops up on your screen …
Big returns on this hot new stock from a company with breaking research on a cure!

Your doorbell rings …
Someone claiming to be from a public health agency says they need to "conduct surveillance" inside your home.

The best way to respond?
Don't respond at all.

Scammers are opportunistic. They are really good at sniffing out our natural fears, anxieties, and other emotional weaknesses, particularly during times of uncertainty, misinformation, and crisis. This has never been more true than today.

Emails, fraudulent calls and fake online ads are common tactics scammers use to exploit the coronavirus pandemic, and the uneasiness everyone feels from the shutdown of normal daily life. While the Justice Department recently pledged a crackdown on these scams, we want to keep you informed about the types of scams out there:

Government stimulus scams

As the IRS has begun sending out economic impact payments approved by the CARES act using checks and direct deposit, many people may fall for government stimulus payment scams. The government, as well as your bank, will NOT ask for a fee for you to receive the funds, nor will they ask for your personal or account information.

Grandparent scams

While not new, so-called grandparent scams pose as panicked grandchildren calling or texting with urgent requests to have money wired for an emergency like paying a hospital bill or needing to leave a foreign country - compelling possibilities during this time of crisis.

Door-to-door imposters

Some municipalities are reporting people claiming to be from the CDC knocking on doors asking to conduct surveillance. The CDC is not deploying teams to anyone's homes, so contact local law enforcement if this occurs.

Bogus treatments, vaccines or cures

Scams pushing products or services promising prevention, treatment or even a vaccine. Real solutions take time and research with backing by official public agencies including the FDA, CDC or WHO, and delivered through a licensed healthcare provider.

Limited-supply items

Scams pushing in-demand items at exorbitant prices such as hard-to-get face masks, hand sanitizer or cleansers. When this is done through malicious ads or email, it's best to not buy, or even click.

Hot stocks

Fraudsters pushing a hot new stock investment by companies whose products allegedly prevent, detect or cure coronavirus. They artificially inflate the price before quietly dumping the stock, leaving investors in the red. Also called a penny-stock fraud or "pump and dump."


Also known as spoofing, scammers pose as a government official or public health agency by calling or emailing to ask for money towards important coronavirus research or charity for those in need, often requesting it in the form of prepaid credit cards or gift cards.

Phony or malicious websites

URLs containing trending terms like "coronavirus" or "covid" have a higher likelihood of being malicious, meaning a click or visit triggers a phishing email. If you click open the email or download a file attachment, malware can searches your files for sensitive personal information or uses your connection to further spread malware.

How to protect yourself and your family

The best way to protect yourself is to take no action and not fall for the scam. To help you, here are recommendations to follow:

  • Don't click on links or download files from unexpected emails, even if the email address look like a company or person you recognize.
  • If you need to look something up on the Internet, open your browser and type the URL directly.
  • Only visit known trusted websites when searching for coronavirus or other information.
  • Do not visit unfamiliar websites even in search engines
  • Official Government websites typically use ".gov", ".int", or ".org" domains, not ".com”
  • Caller ID spoofing is very easy to do, so if the caller asks you to do something unusual or share information about yourself, do not respond—hang up.

Also, please remember:

People's United Bank will never make or send unsolicited calls, texts or emails asking customers to provide, verify, or update passwords, usernames, debit/ATM card PINs, security codes, or Account information such as Social Security number, Account Number, Card Number, or other personal information.

For more information

More resources

People's United Bank is proud to collaborate with the AARP Fraud Watch Network to give consumers, of all ages, access to resources and information to fight identity theft and fraud.

AARP Fraud Prevention Partnership

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended for use as legal, accounting, tax or professional financial advice by People’s United Bank or any of the bank’s subsidiaries. Always consult your legal, accounting and/or tax advisor to fully understand how information may or may not apply to your personal or business financial situation.

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