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COVID-19 Scams to Avoid in West Virginia

West Virginia was one of the last states to have a confirmed COVID-19 case, but now that the pandemic has reached our Mountain State, opportunist scammers are right behind it.

Wondering what’s real and what’s fake about the Coronavirus in West Virginia? As a longtime community bank, JSB is dedicated to protecting our customers and communities from fraud. We put together this list of West Virginia COVID-19 scams to help you identify and avoid the most popular frauds right now. Rest assured that the newly formed West Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force is also working to identify, investigate and prosecute fraud related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Have additional questions about West Virginia Coronavirus scams? Our staff is here for you via phone, drive-thru service, or appointment

We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure the safety of our citizens.

Fake test kits

Be skeptical of callers who offer “free” Coronavirus testing kits. A more targeted version of this scam is for diabetics and the offer is for both a free test and free diabetic monitor. The caller will ask for your personal information and health insurance details. 

According to the CDC, “If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, try calling your state or local health department or a medical provider. While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested.”

FDIC/Stimulus Check Scam

Also a phone scam, this one involves scammers posing as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and asking for sensitive personal information such as your social security and/or bank account numbers. They say you need to provide this over the phone in order to receive your “Economic Impact Payment” as promised in Congress’s recent $2 Trillion stimulus bill.

According to the Treasury Department and the IRS, “distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks and will be distributed automatically, with no action required for most people.”

If you don’t think the IRS has your direct deposit information, a web-based portal is coming from the Treasury so you can securely provide that information. 

Scammers use a crisis as an opporunity to prey on the vulnerable.

Healthcare scams

Ignore threatening calls from supposed healthcare providers asking for immediate payment for the Coronavirus treatment of your family member or friend.

According to a recent New York Times article, “policies regarding your out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus testing and treatment are changing rapidly.” For example, recent legislation passed by Congress makes all coronavirus testing free, wherever it happens. Check the latest guidelines and contact your insurer before paying any medical bills you receive in the mail. And remember that healthcare providers don’t call to demand payment; they mail a bill first.

Charity scams

Whether a hurricane or the current Coronavirus pandemic, scammers often take advantage of natural disasters to solicit fraudulent donations. Preying on people’s desire to help, they ask for cash contributions through the mail or by wire transfer or gift card. 

Never give on-the-spot donations under pressure. If you want to help with COVID-19 relief efforts, Charity Navigator has a comprehensive list of vetted organizations.

Price Gouging

Both private companies like Amazon and federal and state government agencies are working to combat Hoarding and Price Gouging of critical supplies. If you encounter this scam, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by calling its national hotline at (866) 720-5721. 

The West Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force will review and investigate fraud claims.

Student Loan Scams

Taking advantage of recent student loan relief measures from Federal Student Aid, scammers may contact you by phone to request sensitive personal information so you can “qualify” for the temporary break on payments and interest accrual. 

However, no action is necessary to enjoy this benefit. According to the U.S. Department of Education:

All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have their interest rates set to 0% for a period of at least 60 days. In addition, each of these borrowers will have the option to suspend their payments for at least two months to allow them greater flexibility during the national emergency. This will allow borrowers to temporarily stop their payments without worrying about accruing interest.

Additional Resources

Building Community in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle

As Jefferson County’s oldest bank, JSB has been looking out for West Virginians since 1869. We’ve weathered plenty of tough times before, and we are here to help you get through this, too. Whether you’re looking for financial solutions or help from one of our friendly employees, contact us today. We’re all in this together!

JSB remains dedicated to the health of our community!

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