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During this time of social distancing, Pennsylvanians are spending more time on their phones and computers for home, work, shopping and entertainment. Cyber criminals take advantage of widespread fear, panic and worry. They may use your extra screen time and time at home as an opportunity.   

Protect yourself by being aware of different types of scams. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are several ways scammers will use COVID-19 to target people.  

  • Contact Tracing Text Message Scams. Scammers may send a fake text message telling you that someone you came into contact with has tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19. The fake text message will have a link for you to click for more information. Don’t click the link. A legitimate text message from the health department will only let you know they’ll be calling you. To learn more about contact tracing text message scams, click here.
  • Vaccine and treatment scams. Scammers may advertise fake cures, vaccines and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19.  Scammers may even go door to door claiming to be from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) offering you the opportunity to be part of a vaccine program.  Unfortunately, to date, there isn't a vaccine for COVID-19 and the CDC isn't offering such a program. 
  • Shopping Scams. Scammers may create fake stores, e-commerce websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand. Supplies might include things like hand sanitizer, toilet paper and surgical masks. Scammers will keep your money but never provide you with the merchandise.  
  • Medical scams. Scammers may call and email people pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19 and demand payment for treatment.  
  • Charity scams. Scammers sometimes ask for donations for people and groups affected by COVID-19.    
  • Phishing and Malware scams. During the COVID-19 crisis, phishing and malware scams may be used to gain access to your computer or to steal your credentials.  
    • Malware is malicious software such as spyware, ransomware, or viruses that can gain access to your computer system without you knowing. Malware can be activated when you click on email attachments or install risky software.  
    • When Phishing is used, bad actors send false communications from what appears to be a trustworthy source to try to convince you to share sensitive data such as passwords or credit card information. 
    • For example, scammers may pose as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and send phishing emails designed to trick you into downloading malware or providing your personal and financial information.  
  • App scams. Scammers may create mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 and insert malware into that app, which will compromise users' devices and personal information.  Be sure to use only trusted sources.  You should visit trusted resources such as the Pennsylvania Department of Health at or the CDC at .  
  • Investment scams. Scammers may offer online promotions on things like social media, claiming that products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, causing the stock of these companies to dramatically increase in value as a result.  

(Source: U.S. Department of Justice and the Pennsylvania Insurance Department)  

Here are some DO's and DON'Ts when it comes to finding Cornavirus (COVID-19) Scams:


  • DO watch out for vaccinations and home test kits offers. There are currently no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19 
  • DO watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Pennsylvania Department of Health
  • DO be careful while shopping online.  If you see someone selling THE in-demand products, like toilet paper, medical supplies or cleaning supplies, they may not have it.
  • DO your homework when donating to a charity.  Don't let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don't do it.


  • DON'T click on links in text messages from sources you don't know. They could download viruses onto your device.
  • DON'T believe everything you read on the internet.  DON'T share information that hasn't been verified.  Before you hit send, make sure the information is accurate and from a trusted source.
  • DON'T click on links from sources you don't know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • DON'T respond to a text or email about checks from the government.  The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now isn't telling the truth.
  • DON'T feel the need to answer robocalls. Just hang up! DON'T press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to sell anything from Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. Even if the recording says you will speak to a live operator or be added to the do not call list, DON'T press the number but it might lead to more robocalls.

(source: Federal Trade Commission and the Pennsylvania Insurance Department)

Price Gouging- The Office of Attorney General's new tool is available to everyone in the Commonwealth, effective immediately. Any instance of price gouging should be reported to