Scams

12/23/20:  Various COVID vaccine scams have been appearing - here is some information on some of the ones occurring.

Please remember: if someone calls or tells you the following - these are scams!

  • You are asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine.
  • You are asked to pay to put your name on a vaccine waiting list or to get early access.
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources.
  • Marketers offering to sell or ship doses of the vaccine for payment.

Protect Yourself. Do not give out your personal information to unknown sources.


The information below on scams was sourced from the Empire Justice Center website. If you or a family member has been the victim of a scam you can reach out to the Empire Justice Center at their Rochester location: inforochester@empirejustice.org or 1 (585) 295-5929.

Additionally, you can find guidance on Coronavirus resources and warnings about consumer scams on the New York Attorney General's webpage: ag.ny.gov/coronavirus

  • Coronavirus Scams
    • Testing scams: fraudsters are selling fake at-home test kits or going door-to-door performing fake tests for money. Some scammers send emails stating that the World Health Organization is sending free COVID-19 at-home tests and all the individual must do is pay for shipping. This is not true. There are currently no FDA-authorized “at-home” COVID-19 tests available. Do not pay for an at home test.
    • Treatment scams: Scammers are selling fake cures including holy water, vaccines, and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19. There is currently no vaccine or cure for COVID-19. Do not pay for a COVID-19 vaccine or cure.
    • Supply scams: Fraudsters are setting up fake shops, websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies, scammers take the money and never provide supplies. Be careful of paying for supplies from distributors you do not know.
    • Provider scams: Scammers are contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment. Do not provide a payment to any doctor or hospital calling you. Hang up. If you believe the caller may have been legitimate, call your friend or family member and ask if they were recently treated, if they’re insured, and if they received a bill for their treatment.
    • Charity scams: Scammers are soliciting donations for individuals, groups, and areas affected by COVID-19. Be sure to research any individual or organization before you make a contribution. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. Scammers will try to rush you, but a legitimate organization will be happy to provide you with information and receive your donation when you’re ready.
    • Investment scams: Fraudsters are offering online promotions via email and on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information. Do not fall for these investment scams!
  • Health Insurance Scam Calls
    • People may be getting phone calls, in person visits or mailings offering testing services in exchange for personal information. These calls are asking for personal information so they can fraudulently bill Medicare/Medicaid and commit medical identity theft.  Often the health insurance will not approve these claims and then the beneficiary is left with a bill. 
  • Social Security Scam Calls
    • Communication threatening to suspend or discontinue benefits because offices are closed are more than likely a scam and should be reported to the Inspector General. 
      • secure.ssa.gov/ipff/home
      • If assistance is needed you can call Empire Justice Center for Assistance.  Albany Office: please call 518-462-683
  • Stimulus Check Phone Calls
    • If you are receiving phone calls, texts or emails asking for personal or financial information in order to receive your check, these are scams. There are also online solicitations that may include links to websites that look official but are not.  The only legitimate source of information on stimulus checks is the IRS website: www.irs.gov.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
    • There are websites and phone numbers asking for personal information so that people can get additional SNAP benefits. If you have any questions about your SNAP benefits you should call your local Department of Social Services. 
  • Unemployment Scam
    • Recently people reported they have received a letter from the Department of Labor in NY State saying they have filed for unemployment benefits when that is not the case. If you receive a letter about UI benefits but have not applied, you may be a victim of fraud. Please report it here: webapps.labor.ny.gov/dews/ui/fraud/report-fraud.shtm