Consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission related to the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) have surged in recent weeks as the illness has advanced across the United States and spread fear and uncertainty.
Since the beginning of the year, the FTC has received more than 7,800 coronavirus-related reports from consumers, double what they were about a week ago.
The FTC said the top categories of coronavirus-related fraud complaints include travel and vacation related reports about cancellations and refunds, reports about problems with online shopping, robocalls, mobile texting scams, and government and business imposter scams. In fraud complaints that mentioned the coronavirus, consumers reported losing a total of $4.77 million, with a reported median loss of $598.
The FTC will release numbers regularly on its Explore Data web page detailing coronavirus-related complaints from consumers.
The FTC advises consumers to hang up immediately if a robocaller tries to sell you a COVID-19 test, vaccine or any other medical equipment. Further, the FTC is taking the fight against illegal Coronavirus robocalls to companies that assist fraudulent telemarketers in their deception. That includes companies that transmit or carry these kinds of calls for telemarketers, or that give the phone numbers that scammers use for people to call them back. Last week, the FTC sent letters to nine VoIP providers and companies that license phone numbers, warning them about the penalties for helping telemarketers that use these kinds of illegal robocalls.
Visit https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/ftc-in-action for more information about the types of coronavirus-related scams the FTC is receiving, tips on how to avoid them, and other information about what the FTC is doing to protect consumers.
The FTC urges those who have encountered any type of fraud—including fraud related to the ongoing coronavirus crisis—to report it viaFTC.gov/complaint.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).