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As part of National Consumer Protection Week, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) offers the following five tips to protect your identity and money during COVID-19. Scammers often take advantage of vulnerable people during times of crisis, so it is important that you be aware of potential scams and know how to avoid them.
You will never be asked to put a deposit down or provide credit card information to make a vaccination appointment. If you are offered early access to the vaccine in exchange for money, that is a scam—there is no early access. The vaccine is being distributed in phases to groups of people at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure, such as older adults, essential workers, those with underlying conditions, and more.
Price gouging is illegal for any item or service needed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
While most tax preparers provide honest and high-quality service, some may mislead you into taking credits or deductions you aren’t entitled to claim—this is illegal. In addition, by promising a “bigger” and “faster” refund, they will likely increase their fees, and you will end up losing your hard-earned refund. Always ask the preparer for a Consumer Bill of Rights Regarding Tax Preparers and read it thoroughly before having your taxes prepared. Eligible New Yorkers can use NYC Free Tax Prep for trusted, professional virtual and in-person filing services.
Any call, email, or text message from someone claiming to be a government official and demanding money or personal information is likely a scam.
Resist the pressure to act quickly. If you are ever unsure about a call or email, visit the official agency website or call the official agency number to verify the legitimacy of it.
Avoid giving personal information over the phone, by email, text, or on social media sites, and never click on unfamiliar links. Create strong, personal passwords and only download software and apps from trusted sources.