Attorney General Ashley Moody issued a Consumer Alert asking Floridians to exercise caution when answering COVID-19 contact tracing calls. To slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, state public health professionals are calling Floridians who may have come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. These calls are an extremely vital tool in the state’s effort to contain the spread of the virus, but Floridians need to take steps to verify that the call is from the local county health department before providing information.
Moody said, “Unfortunately, we can’t trust the voice on the other end of the phone to always be truthful—even in the face of a deadly pandemic. I want to encourage all Floridians to engage with legitimate health professionals working to contain the spread of COVID-19, but to be cautious before providing information.
“If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be asked by an epidemiologist from your county health department about everyone you’ve come in contact with over the last two weeks. The epidemiologist will talk to each person and ask them about their health. But they will never ask for your Social Security number or financial information.”
Moody also issued a Consumer Alert warning students at Florida colleges and universities of an emerging work-from-home employment scam. Scammers are targeting students via emails that appear to be sent from a college or university advertising fictitious work-from-home employment opportunities. The scammers obtain personal information from the student while posing as a university representative. Savvy scammers convince students to cash counterfeit checks and send them the money.
“During the COVID-19 crisis and resulting economic downturn, Floridians are looking for work, and it is unconscionable that scammers are exploiting these times of uncertainty to prey on our college students. Students who fall victim to this scam could face serious repercussions to their financial stability and credit record. I am urging all students currently enrolled at Florida colleges and universities to take extra precaution when receiving online job offers.”
The emerging scheme involves scammers sending online job advertisements offering college students an administrative position, tricking the student into believing the email is from a college or university representative by using an email address ending in ‘.edu’. As part of the scheme, the student receives counterfeit checks in the mail, or via email, and is instructed to deposit the checks into a personal checking account. The scammers then direct the student to withdraw the money and make a payment necessary for the job. Often, after the student sends the money, the checks are confirmed to be fraudulent by the bank.
According to Moody’s Consumer Protection Division, students falling victim to the scam experience bank accounts being closed due to fraudulent activity and a report filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency. Additionally, the student would be responsible for reimbursing the bank for the total amount of the counterfeit checks, often times resulting in an adverse effect on the student’s credit record.