Live 5 Scambusters: FTC warns about new round of COVID-19 relief scams

Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 at 11:13 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As Congress considers another economic relief package to help during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Trade Commission has put out another warning about potential scams.

“The scammers do follow the headlines and they do follow the money,” Karen Hobbs with the FTC said.

Hobbs is a lawyer by trade and is the Assistant Director in the FTC’s Division of Consumer Business Education. She says the uncertainty over a potential relief package could make people targets and they need to be aware.

“Scammers are going to start calling with alerts or offers and they’ll try to provide you with so-called ‘help’ in getting your money,” Hobbs said. “They may pretend to be with the IRS or another government agency. They’re going to be calling you or texting you and asking for your personal information: your social security, your bank account, your credit card numbers. Don’t do it.”

It’s unclear what may be in a new stimulus package but scammers will likely have a pitch for everything from mortgage relief and eviction protection to jobs and unemployment help.

“There are a lot of tried and true job scams that are just being repackaged by scammers during the pandemic,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs says scammers may use fake ads to lure you in to get your information. Also, be very skeptical about any checks sent to you by an employer that requires you to send money back.

You can find the FTC’s tips and advice on to avoid coronavirus related scams and manage the financial impact of the pandemic here. Hobbs says the FTC wants people to be aware and keep their guard up. She says it’s also important for people to report any scams when they find them.

“The aggregate data helps us spot trends that are going on in the marketplace,” Hobbs said. The detailed data also helps us when we do target bad actors. The FTC files enforcement actions about these cases and these kinds of scams all the time.”

You can report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at and if you’d like to sign up for consumer alerts you can do so at

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at

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