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Posted on: March 25, 2020

IMPORTANT: County warns of COVID-19 stimulus scams

COVID-19 Stimulus scam

The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs has issues a warning to residents about reported scams purporting to offer aid related to COVID-19 and the proposed government stimulus intended to help consumers and businesses. 


The county issued a statement Wednesday, March 25, urging residents to be extremely cautious when handling texts, emails, and social media posts regarding COVID-19 and/or government stimulus checks.


Find the full statement from the county below, followed by links to useful information on how to identify and avoid such scams:


Cuyahoga County residents have reported receiving scam texts that say:


“… fill out this Census form so you can get you [sic] stimulus check. …If you don’t fill it out you will not receive a check in the mail.”


These texts are bogus. The coronavirus stimulus relief program is entirely separate from the Census. Federal law prohibits Census information from being used for other government programs, and details of the federal coronavirus stimulus relief program haven’t been worked out yet.


But worse, texts or posts like this may contain malware, which is a computer virus that can steal information and passwords from your phone or computer.


Law enforcement around the country are reporting an uptick in coronavirus-related email and social media scams, which coincide with large numbers of people working from home.


Some emails have been doctored to look like they come from the Centers for Disease Control or World Health Organization.


“Even though some of these texts or posts may seem helpful, they are designed to harm us or our neighbors,” said Sheryl Harris, Director of Consumer Affairs for Cuyahoga County. “We all have to be vigilant before we click on a link or share information.” 

 

Be extra cautious with emails or texts that:

  • Appear to be from a quarantined colleague or client requesting logging into a secure account or system.
  • Involve a higher-up, Human Resources rep or bank requesting emails with personal info about colleagues, including Social Security or banking info.
  • Ask you to help with an unexpected transfer of funds, particularly a transfer to foreign suppliers for the purchase of coronavirus medical equipment or supplies
  • Request your passwords or Social Security numbers to sign up for coronavirus updates or information.
  • Promise you coronavirus-fighting tips or government money.
  • Urge you to “forward this to everyone you know” or tell you that the information was received from an insider or “a friend of a friend”

These sites can help you spot email and other coronavirus-related scams:

Report scams:

  • Report suspicious texts by forwarding them to SPAM (7726).
  • Report suspicious emails to https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
  • Report suspicious social media posts to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov.

If you have questions about a scam, please contact Scam Squad at 216-443-SCAM (7226).


Below is a recap of Governor DeWine’s press conference for 3/24/2020


By the Numbers: 

  • 564 confirmed cases of coronavirus - a 27% increase over Monday
  • 8 fatalities
  • 145 hospitalizations - this is 25.7% of the confirmed cases
  • 62 of those hospitalized are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) - this is 11% of the confirmed cases
  • Ages range from less than 1 year old to 95 years of age
  • 49 counties
  • Ohio is roughly 15 days behind New York (per Ohio Department of Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton)


Healthcare System Capacity:


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • A federal shipment of PPE has been sent to local governments to distribute to first responders and medical personnel. The PPE includes gloves, masks, gowns, face shields, and googles. The state is fully committed to doing everything it can to distribute the equipment in a timely manner. The Governor cited the example that, on average, thirty-six (36) pairs of gloves are used to care for one person in the ICU per day, and this is why elective surgeries are postponed.


Economy:

  • The Governor stated that protecting people and protecting the economy are not mutually exclusive. Noting that we save our economy by first saving lives, and if our hospitals are overwhelmed, and thousands of Ohioans do not get the care they need, our economy suffers. Accordingly, we have to do everything we can to flatten the curve.
  • The financial services industry wants everyone to know that they are open. Although their lobby may not be open, they have ATMs, drive-thru windows, and online services. In addition, the state has received assurances from the banks that if you are a business owner and having financial problems, please contact them. The financial industry was granted discretion to help businesses in need.
  • The Lt. Governor was frustrated by yesterday’s Order from the US Department of Labor directing Ohio not to release daily unemployment numbers. In an effort to comply, the state will now release unemployment numbers on a weekly basis which will be Thursdays


Stay-at-Home Order:

  • The Lt. Governor warned Ohioans not to call 911 or law enforcement or the local health departments for an interpretation of the Stay-at-Home Order. He stated that law enforcement and health departments do not provide interpretations of the Order, rather enforce the Order. He also noted that many of the state’s mayors indicated that they are getting overwhelmed with businesses calling them and asking for guidance and interpretation of the Order.
  • Clarification: You do not need a letter or certification to demonstrate that you are in compliance with the Order. Rather you need a rationale about how the Order applies to your business, and you should be prepared to tell employees and those enforcing the Order why your business qualifies and how you are in compliance.

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