Story By: CBS News 8 Team
SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer on Thursday was joined by District Attorney Summer Stephan and City Attorney Mara Elliott to highlight resources available to San Diegans related to scams and abuse in a time of crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected millions of individuals globally.
As the federal government begins economic impact payments from the recently passed federal stimulus, San Diegans have reported scams, ranging from telephone scams with people impersonating Internal Revenue Service agents to fake organizations requesting donations for the World Health Organization.
“As this public health crisis evolves, San Diegans need to make sure they are taking steps to prevent fraud and abuse from predators trying to take advantage,” Mayor Faulconer said.
COMMONLY IDENTIFIED SCAMS
- Economic impact payment scams: The IRS will deposit your economic impact payment into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return or send you a paper check. The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. San Diegans are encouraged not to give out your bank account, debit account or PayPal account information – even if someone claims it is necessary to get your economic impact payment. If you receive a call stating otherwise, San Diegans are encouraged to hang up.
- Charity scams: Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, don’t do it. San Diegans are encouraged to do their due diligence when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites.
- Fake organizations: Consumers should be on alert for criminals who may set up fake websites, send emails, or post on social media pretending to be from the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an attempt to profit illegally.
- COVID-19 vaccines scam: Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy unproven products to treat or prevent the coronavirus disease online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for COVID-19.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION
In addition to resources available to protect San Diegans against scams during the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Family Justice Center (SDFJC), although its physical offices remain closed, can still provide important services to avoid tragedy and connect vulnerable citizens with life-saving services.
“As San Diegans struggle to respond to the pandemic, they shouldn’t have to also worry about becoming victims of crime,” District Attorney Stephan said. “We rely on reports from San Diegans across the county to stop greedy price gouging and fraudulent schemes. We stand ready to protect consumer rights under the law and we will strictly enforce violations.”
The SDFJC is the only comprehensive provider in the city, offering services ranging from forensic medical examinations to legal advice to counseling services. All services provided are confidential, free, and available to anyone in need. The SDFJC partners with other agencies that are equally committed to serving clients even in a global pandemic.
The services of the SDFJC are particularly important now that San Diegans have been ordered to stay home in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, some may be forced into confinement with abusers. With schools closed in the county, children who otherwise may have avoided witnessing violent altercations may also be caught in the crossfire. Given the pandemic has affected many financially, this also provides an opportunity for an increase in violence, something experts have long recognized and warned.