The Arizona Attorney General Office is committed to protecting Arizonans and ensuring consumers have the access to the information they need to recognize and avoid consumer fraud.
Since COVID-19 reached the United States, fraudsters have been innovating new scams and schemes to take advantage of Arizona consumers. General Brnovich is dedicated to defending Arizonans, holding fraudsters accountable, and providing the public with the information that they need to not fall prey to these bad actors.
This webpage is designed to provide you and your family with important information to recognize and avoid COVID-19 scams and frauds.
COVID-19 information is everywhere and some of that information is wrong. Ask yourself the following questions before trusting the information:
- Who is the message from? Do I know them? Do I trust them? Am I positive they are who they say they are? Did I double check that they are not government impersonators?
- What do they want me to do? Do they just want me to know something or are they trying to get me to act in some way? Do they want me to buy something, download something, or give up personal information?
- What evidence supports the message? Did I use independent sources to fact-check it — or debunk it? Did I talk to someone I trust?
Always verify using a few additional sources. Once you’ve done that, does the message still seem legitimate and accurate? We can’t slow the volume of information coming your way, but we can help you protect yourself by approaching information with care. You should ask and answer these questions to help you sort out what’s helpful…and what’s a scam.
Unsolicited emails about COVID-19
The following tips will help you recognize and avoid scam emails intended to download malware on your electronic devices, obtain your personal information, and steal your money.
- Beware of online requests for personal information. A coronavirus-themed email that seeks personal information like your Social Security number or login information is a phishing scam. Delete the email.
- Check the email address or link. You can inspect a link by hovering your mouse button over the URL to see where it leads. Sometimes, it’s obvious the web address is not legitimate. But keep in mind phishers can create links that closely resemble legitimate addresses. Delete the email.
- Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes. If an email includes spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, it’s likely a sign you’ve received a phishing email. Delete it.
- Look for generic greetings. Phishing emails are unlikely to use your name. Greetings like “Dear sir or madam” are a sign that an email is not legitimate. Delete it.
- Avoid emails that insist you act now. Phishing emails often try to create a sense of urgency or demand immediate action. The goal is to get you to click on a link and provide personal information — right now. Instead, delete the message.
If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you may file a consumer complaint with the Office of the Arizona Attorney General online. For consumer inquiries, or to request a complaint form, call (602) 542-5763 (Phoenix office), (520) 628-6648 (Tucson office), or toll-free outside of metro Phoenix, (800) 352-8431.
The following resources are COVID-19 related alerts and updates from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and other consumer protection experts across the country. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office also provides Consumer Scam presentations, which you can request here.
AZAG Scam, Action, and Advisory Alerts
- AG Brnovich Issues Warnings Regarding COVID-19 Scammers. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich Warns About Coronavirus Scams. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich advises Arizonans to be cautious about work-from-home opportunities. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich warns Arizonans about family emergency scams a.k.a. Grandparent scams. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich issues warning letters to several gyms to change in-person cancellation policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information.
- AG Brnovich asks Arizona lenders to provide temporary relief on mortgage and auto loans during COVID-19 uncertainty. More information.
- AG Brnovich Issues COVID-19 Economic Impact Check Consumer Warning. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich Issues Cease-and-Desist to Phoenix Dispensary Over Advertising. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich Issues Cease-and-Desist Letter to Prepper’s Discount for Offering “Immunity” Tablets. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich and U.S. Attorney for Arizona Michael Bailey Launch COVID-19 Fraud Task Force. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich called on the FTC to strengthen consumer protections for Funeral Home Services. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich advises Arizonans to use safe internet practices when working from home and in online classrooms. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich warns Arizonans that “Sextortion” email scams are on the rise. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich advises Arizonans that nursing homes cannot take CARES Act checks. Press Release.
- AG Brnovich and Senator Sinema issued a warning regarding new senior scams. Press Release.
- Arizona Attorney General's OfficeSenior Scam Alert Series.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published an article about scams for those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and often targeted for scams, those 60 and over. More information.
- The FTC issued tips to avoid Grandparent scams in the age of Coronavirus. More information.
- The FTC discussed what to do if an assisted living facility has taken your stimulus check. More information.
- The IRS reminded consumers that CARES Act Economic Impact Payments belong to the recipient and not to nursing homes and care facilities that receive payments on behalf of residents. More information.
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services warned nursing homes that seizing Economic Impact Payments could violate federal law. More information.
- The FTC reminded consumers that Economic Impact Payments are intended for individuals and not nursing homes or care facilities. More information.
- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a message that FDIC-insured banks are not at risk because of COVID-19. More Information.
- The FBI warned consumers about bereavement scams after a loved one has passed. More information.
- The FBI warned consumers about an increase in extortion scams. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers about Bitcoin Blackmail email scams. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers that scammers are using fake charities and provided tips on how to avoid those scams.
- The FTC published information about virtual schooling and children’s privacy in a remote learning setting. More information.
- The FTC published articles about Child Identity Theft and additional Parent Resources for keeping children safe online.
- The Justice Department and the FBI warned parents and caregivers that increased online activity during the current health crisis presents more opportunities for internet child exploitation.
- The FTC warned college students that they’re being targeted for COVID-19-related phishing schemes designed to look like emails from educational institutions. More information.
- The FCC extended an assistance program to help low-income consumers access communication services through November 30, 2020. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers about contact tracing text message scams. More information.
- Government groups are contacting consumers as part of the contact tracing efforts to combat COVID-19. For example, Maricopa County is texting consumers (more information) and Pima County is calling consumers (more information). Independently verify the contact is legitimate before responding and deciding whether to participate in the process.
Cryptocurrency Fraud Scams
- The FBI advised consumers COVID-19-related cryptocurrency scams likely would increase. More information.
- The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned individuals to remain vigilant for COVID-19 related cyber scams. More Information.
- The FBI warned that cyber-attacks will likely increase and provided information and tips on how to avoid them. More information.
Cybersecurity when Working from Home
- The FTC issued security tips when working from home during the crisis. More Information.
- The FBI and the CISA released guidance on defending against video-teleconference hijacking. More information.
- The CISA issued an alert regarding malicious cyber attacks exploiting COVID-19. More information.
- The BBB published an article to help individuals and business protect videoconferences from hackers. More information.
- The FTC provided tips on staying safe while teleconferencing. More information.
- The FBI warns that criminals are broadcasting child sexual abuse material on open meetings and events. More information.
- The FCC provided tips for keeping video conferences secure. More information.
- The FTC published an article about dealing with debt collectors during the pandemic. More information.
Debt Reduction Scams
- The FTC published an article discussing scams which offer to reduce rates for student loans and provide loan relief. More information.
- The FBI warned consumers of individuals or companies citing fake “new laws” related to COVID-19 as justification for charging or demanding additional fees for shipping and product insurance. More information.
- The FCC published guidance on how to identify and avoid delivery scams this holiday season. More information.
Financial and Economic Impact Payments
- CARES Act scams: the following links provide information about recognizing and avoiding scams, government imposter scams, small business loan scams, and IRS information.
- CARES Act check identification: the following links are Treasury Department resources for economic impact payment verification, check security features, and the Know Your U.S. Treasury Check campaign.
- CARES Act payment information: the IRS will provide information and the status of the first and second Economic Impact Payments through the IRS website and with the Get My Payment tool, and the CFPB provided general payment information. If your payment was not the amount you expected, click here. The IRS published answers to frequently asked questions about the second Economic Impact Payment.
- CARES Act prepaid card information: millions of payments will be made on prepaid debit cards, and the IRS answered FAQs. The FTC answered what to expect, and the CFPB and the IRS provided tips on using the cards without fees.
- The FBI warns consumers about a text message scam claiming Costco is offering “loyal customers” a “stimulus check.” More information.
- The FTC recommends that consumers go to IdentityTheft.gov if they believe that their CARES Act check was stolen by an identity thief. More information.
- The IRS requested that CARES Act payments that were sent to deceased people be returned and provided instructions on how to do so. More information.
- The FTC provided guidance on identifying legitimate Department of the Treasury mailers sent to consumers and requesting replacement Economic Impact Payment cards. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers to be prepared for a new wave of COVID-19 scams if Congress passes a second stimulus package. More information.
- The IRS announced that consumers with dependent children who used the non-filers tool before May 17, 2020, were mistakenly denied $500 in COVID-19 stimulus money per child. The IRS will send those funds to affected consumers. More information.
- The CFPB explained how non-tax filers can claim Economic Impact Payments for new qualifying dependents. More information.
- The Arizona Department of Economic Security updated its website with information on repaying an unemployment insurance overpayment. More information.
- The IRS announced that individuals who did not receive a full Economic Impact Payment can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 tax form. More Information.
- The FTC published tips for avoiding scams during the second round of Economic Impact Payments. More information.
- The IRS published an update on the status of Economic Impact Payments. More information.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provided COVID-19 resources about protecting your finances, protecting your credit, a guide to economic impact payments, and other consumer resources.
- The FTC provided guidance on the financial impact of coronavirus including information about job loss, homes, vehicles, credit, debt, and small businesses. More information.
- The FTC announced that credit reports will be free and available every week for the next year. More information.
- The CFPB provided credit card debt relief options and tips to consumers. More information.
- The CFPB explains CARES Act rules for withdrawing money from retirement accounts. More information.
- The IRS warned consumers to keep an eye out for financial scams and tax fraud following an uptick in monetary frauds and schemes. More information.
- The FTC provided resources to consumers about the Funeral Rule and what to consider when planning for a loved one’s departure.
- The FDIC warned consumers that fraudsters are sending fake agency communications using real FDIC employees’ names. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers about new COVID-19 government imposter scams. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers that fraudsters are claiming to be the FTC and offering money from a fake fund if consumers send them bank account information. More information.
- The Justice Department warned about fraudulent COVID Mask Exemption Cards claiming to be government-issued proof that an individual is exempt from mask requirements. No such exemption cards exist. More information.
- The federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency warned that scammers are spoofing the Small Business Administration COVID-19 loan relief webpage to steal user credentials. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers that FTC emails requesting money or personal information from consumers are government imposter scams. More Information.
- The IRS warned consumers about a text message scam that requests bank account information and links to an imposter IRS website. More information.
- The FTC and the BBB warned consumers about COVID-19 relief scams targeting small business owners and provided tips on how to avoid loan scams.
- The CFPB, FHFA, and HUD launch a housing assistance website for homeowners impacted by COVID-19. More information.
- The Arizona Supreme Court and Arizona Department of Housing provided eviction postponement and prevention information to consumers. More Supreme Court information. More DOH information.
- The CFPB published guides for mortgage relief options and borrowers rights, a video about CARES Act mortgage forbearance, provided additional resources, and information for using home equity during the pandemic.
- The FTC provided tips on how to get mortgage assistance and warns consumers that scammers may pretend to be lenders. More information.
- The CFPB and the FTC provided details about the types of relief available to renters during the COVID‑19 pandemic.
- The CFPB warned that scammers may use reverse mortgage scams to target elderly homeowners during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information.
- The CFPB advised consumers that mortgage relief deadlines have been extended. More information.
- The Arizona Lottery warned consumers that scammers are posing as Mega Millions jackpot winners and offering COVID-19 relief money to steal personal information. More information.
- The FBI warns about increased potential for fraudulent sales of COVID-19-related medical equipment. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers that scammers are selling facemasks and other important goods and fail to deliver those goods. More information.
- The Department of Health and Human Services warned about Medicare fraud schemes related to COVID-19. More Information.
- The Senior Medicare Patrol provided tips for Medicare recipients and caretakers to avoid COVID-19 fraud. More information.
Military Servicemembers Financial Protection
- The CFPB published information regarding financial assistance available to military servicemembers affected by the coronavirus. More information.
- The FDA provided information about animals and COVID-19. More information.
Pet Adoption Scams
- The BBB warned that pet adoption scams using COVID-19 stay-at-home orders to manipulate victims are on the rise.
Robocalls and Texts
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warned of COVID-19 robocalls and texts. More Information.
- The FTC published an article on how to recognize and handle COVID-19 robocalls. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers not to click links in unsolicited text messages. More information.
- The FBI warned that many COVID-19 related scams including extortion scams, money mule scams, and business email compromise scams are on the rise.
- The FTC provided consumers access to COVID-19 scam data.
- The CFPB issued consumer warnings and tips about COVID-19 related scams, quarantine assistance scams, and provided access to the complaint database.
- The United States Postal Inspection Service provided consumer tips to protect against COVID-19 scams. More information.
- The BBB published their top six coronavirus scams with tips on how to avoid them. More information.
- The FTC provided consumers with a tool to review scam data by state. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers that the CARES Act does not contain vehicle related relief, and the government is not using car dealerships to distribute Economic Impact Payments. More information.
- The FTC issued a series of videos offering tips on how to recognize and avoid COVID‑19 scams. More information.
- The CFPB issued a bulletin discussing COVID-19 related trends in consumer lending complaints. More information.
- The FTC published a video explaining how scammers pressure consumers to pay money using wire transfers or gift cards. More information.
- The FTC offered tips on how to avoid scammers posing as customer service representatives of legitimate businesses. More information.
- The CFPB published guidance on how to avoid scams during the holiday season. More information.
- The FCC published a video on common COVID-19 scams in American Sign Language. More information.
- The IRS published information on common COVID-19 scams. More information.
- The FTC published its COVID-19 Scam Bingo card. More Information.
- The CFPB published placemats, handouts, and activity sheets to help families and seniors recognize and avoid scams. More information.
- The FTC has updated and upgraded econsumer.gov to make scam information more readily available to consumers.
- The FTC provided an informational video on using the FTC database to identify COVID‑19 scams reported in your area. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers that some online sellers are not shipping next-day as promised. More information.
- The FTC provided an informational video on shopping online safely. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers that scammers are purportedly selling goods online and then failing to deliver. More information.
- The FTC provided tips on how to avoid being shortchanged during the COVID-19 related coin shortage. More information.
- The FBI warned consumers about a rise in online shopping scams and offered tips for identifying fraudulent websites. More information.
- The FTC provided tips for safe online shopping this holiday season. More information.
Social Media Scams
- The FBI warned that social media trends can lead to sharing personal details that make consumers more susceptible to fraud. More information.
- The Social Security Administration (SSA) issued a message that Social Security benefits will not be suspended because of COVID-19. More Information.
- The FTC published tips to recognize and avoid Social Security scams trying to take advantage of COVID-19. More information and FTC video.
- The CFPB published an article discussing what you need to know about student loans during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information.
- The FTC published updated information about CARES Act aid for those with student debt. More information.
- The CFPB provided tips on managing private student loans for borrowers and co-signers financially impacted by COVID-19. More information.
- The U.S. Department of Education extended student loan relief through January 31, 2021. More information.
Tech Support Scams
- The FTC warns consumers to hang up on telephone calls received from someone claiming to be Tech Support and calling about a virus on your computer system. Press Release.
Testing & Treatment
- FDA warned consumers about fraudulent coronavirus tests, vaccines, and treatments.
- The FDA has authorized some at home testing kits for COVID-19, but do not trust at-home testing kits without verifying the test with your doctor or the FDA. More information.
- The FBI warned of emerging health care frauds regarding COVID-19 testing and treatment. More information.
- The FTC warned consumers about fake COVID-19 testing locations and provided tips about searching for tests. More information.
- The FDA has identified and taken action against many identified fraudulent COVID-19 medications. New treatment scams will continue to arise, so do not trust COVID-19 medication or treatments without verifying it with your doctor or the FDA.
- The FDA published an article about coronavirus testing basics. More information.
- The FDA provided a guide to understanding FDA terminology for COVID-19 prevention and treatment. More information.
- The FBI warned consumers about potential antibody testing fraud. More information.
- The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center warned against the use of untested botanical products, like oleandrin, to prevent or treat COVID-19. More information.
- The FTC,BBB, FBI and the Office of Inspector General warned consumers to expect an increase in COVID-19 vaccine scams and provided tips on how to spot fraudulent vaccine advertisements. More information.
- The FTC provided tips on how to deal with ruined travel plans. More information.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation clarified that consumers will receive refunds from airlines for ruined travel plans during the pandemic. More information.
Work From Home Scams
- The FTC warned consumers about work-from-home scams and provided tips and advice when looking for work during COVID-19. More information.
- The FTC cautions consumers to research multi-level marketing companies before investing in them and warns MLMs to stop making unsupported COVID-19 claims. More information.
- The FTC published a video to learn about recognizing and avoiding work-at-home scams. More information.
- The FBI warned that consumers seeking employment during the COVID-19 pandemic may be more susceptible to money mule scams and provided tips for avoiding these scams. More information.
- Business Email Compromise Scams
- Bad actors are pretending to be institutions or companies that consumers do business with ordinarily. They are contacting consumers with emails made to look like legitimate requests from these institutions or companies and requesting that funds and information be sent in a different way than normal due to COVID-19. Review the FBI’s tips and red flags.
- Charity Scams
- Scammers may solicit donations directly or through crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe. Before donating, do your homework. Ask for written information (including annual reports) about the charity before you donate. Find out how your donation is distributed and how much of your donation will actually go to the charity itself (compared to administrative costs). You can also use websites like charitynavigator.org to read important reports.
- Door-to-Door Scams
- Fraudsters are going door-to-door offering services that they claim will protect residents from COVID-19. Do not allow anyone to access your home that you do not know or have not asked to assist you.
- Con artists are going door-to-door pretending to work for the census, and asking consumers for financial information and money. The Census has suspended field operations until April because of COVID-19.
- Economic Stimulus Scams
- Fraudsters are trying to steal money and information by engaging in Government Imposter Scams (see below for tips) and claiming to sign consumers up or qualify them for a stimulus check.
- Fake Test Kit Scams
- Scammers are selling fake at-home coronavirus diagnostic kits. At this time, the FDA has approved only one at-home testing product. Before purchasing an at-home testing kit, verify that it is approved by the FDA..
- Family Emergency Scams
- Scammers may use COVID-19 as a pretext for tricking consumers into thinking a loved one is in trouble and needs money immediately.
- In the past, these scams often are phone calls where the fraudster pretends to be a grandchild or family member claiming to be in trouble or requiring immediate financial assistance.
- Consumers who receive such a call should resist the urge to act right away and take steps to verify the caller’s identity.
- Do not send gift cards, cash, or money transfers.
- Scammers may use COVID-19 as a pretext for tricking consumers into thinking a loved one is in trouble and needs money immediately.
- Government Imposter Scams
- Scammers are pretending to be government employees to steal money and information. Remember the following if someone contacts you claiming to be from the government:
- The government will never ask you to pay anything up front to get money, a credit, or a refund.
- The government will never call and ask for your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card number.
- The government will never threaten to arrest you for not providing personal information or ask you to purchase gift cards.
- Scammers are pretending to be government employees to steal money and information. Remember the following if someone contacts you claiming to be from the government:
- Internet Scams
- Bad actors are creating fake advertisements claiming to have important information about COVID-19. Do not click on any link promising important information about COVID-19. Stay informed by going to the websites of reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Arizona Department of Health.
- Stay informed by going to the websites of reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Arizona Department of Health.
- Phishing Emails – Beware of emails claiming to be the CDC or the World Health Organization. Fraudsters are sending fake emails to gain access to your computer and financial information. Do not click any links in any unsolicited emails.
- Miracle Product Scams
- Scammers are selling fake treatments and cures for COVID-19. Beware of any product claiming that it can prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19. Currently, there are no vaccinations and no proven cures for the virus.
- Money Mule Scams
- Fraudsters are asking consumers to help them move illicit funds through online jobs, dating websites, and apps. Unless you are personally or professionally responsible for another person or entity, do not conduct financial transactions for anyone or give anyone access to your financial accounts. Review the FBI’s tips.
- Mortgage Relief Scams
- The FTC published detailed information regarding scams targeting homeowners in distressed loan situations.
- Phone Scams
- The number of scam robocalls, text messages, and emails regarding COVID-19 are on the rise. Hang up on robocalls, do not respond or click links in unsolicited texts, and do not click links in unsolicited emails.
- Shopping Thieves
- Fraudsters are offering to shop for self-isolating people. Do not trust random strangers to shop for you.
- Work-from-Home Scams
- Scammers are selling fake jobs, fake investments, and fake ways of making money working from home. Before engaging in a business venture from home, review the six tips.
The Better Business Bureau
The BBB is providing numerous consumer-education resources on how to avoid scams during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers can also use the BBB's Scam Tracker to view reported scams and can research local businesses and scams at bbb.org.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The CFPB is providing consumers information about how to protect their finances during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Labor
The federal Department of Labor is providing COVID-19 workplace and employment resources for employees and employers.
The Federal Communications Commission
The FCC is providing Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Food and Drug Administration
The FDA is providing resources to consumers through its regularly updated Coronavirus Website and answers to many Frequently Asked Questions. The FDA also is offering recommendations on how to make a difference during the pandemic.
The Federal Trade Commission
The FTC is providing coronavirus advice to consumers including tips for recognizing and avoiding scams.
The National Association of Attorneys General
NAAG is providing resources, guidance, tips, and alerts about the COVID-19 pandemic. NAAG also provides a wide range of consumer protection information to consumers..
The United States Department of Justice
The U.S. Department of Justice is providing tips for avoiding identity theft and other resources for consumers who have fraudulent unemployment insurance claims filed under their stolen identities.
The United States Government
The federal government has created a central COVID-19 response webpage with resources and actions from across the federal government in response to COVID-19. In addition, Benefits.gov provides further information about specific federal government coronavirus resources.
The United States Postal Inspection Service
The USPIS is providing resources and tips on how to protect yourself from fraud generally and from mail scams. They are also maintaining tips on COVID-19 related scams specifically.