Within days of the national COVID-19 pandemic, fraudsters started to take advantage of whomever might be vulnerable to the latest scam. Scammers immediately set up websites to sell bogus products, COVID-19 health ‘cures’ and even fake testing sites. Here are a few scams we monitored:
- Testing and vaccination scams – Watch for the sale of unauthorized Covid-19 “cures,” vaccines, or testing kits.
- Charity scams – Be skeptical of solicitation of funds by persons purportedly working on behalf of Covid-19 victims;
- Price gouging scams – Look-out for businesses selling essential goods, like hand sanitizer, bottled water and toilet paper, at higher prices than what the goods would normally be sold for;
- Identity scams – Be wary of imposters pretending to be a government official asking for personal identifying information, access to bank or unemployment insurance accounts, or offering to help access government benefits faster, including economic impact payments.
- Vaccine card scams
Download: How to Spot a COVID Vaccine Scam (PDF)
Price gouging is when businesses dramatically raise the prices of necessary goods during a crisis. In March of 2020, Attorney General Rosenblum joined other Attorneys General in a letter to giant online retailers Ebay, Facebook, Walmart, Amazon, and Craigslist urging the retailers to rigorously monitor price gouging on their sites.
On March 16, 2020, at AG Rosenblum’s request, Governor Kate Brown declared an “abnormal disruption to the Oregon marketplace” due to COVID-19. Because of this declaration, Oregon DOJ’s Consumer Protection team took legal action against any business or online vendor that up-charged the price of essential consumer goods by more than 15 percent.
In response, the Oregon DOJ set up a “Price Gouging Hotline” for Oregonians to report abnormally high prices on necessary goods. To report an incident of price gouging call (503)-378-8442.
- 33 Attorneys General Warn Amazon, Facebook, Ebay, Craigslist: You Aren’t Exempt from Price Gouging Laws
- Attorney General Rosenblum Asks Governor Brown to Declare Abnormal Disruption of the Market
- Download: Price Gouging Handout (English | Russian | Spanish)
- Price Gouging Frequently Asked Questions
Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracers usually work for the local public health authority or the state’s public health division, and in some parts of Oregon they may work for a community-based organization. Contact tracers help notify others that they may have been exposed, as well as suggest steps to keep themselves and the public safe.
In 2021, at the request of Attorney General Rosenblum, the Oregon legislature passed a law that ensures the private health data of Oregonians will be protected amid the explosion of contact tracing apps and services. To learn more about this law, visit the Privacy Spotlight page.
Scammers have still targeted Oregonians through contract tracing scams. These imposters may send emails and text messages with links to fraudulent websites. Clicking on the link can download software onto a device, giving scammers access to an array of personal and financial information. The Attorney General encourages anyone who thinks they may have been targeted by a contact-tracing scam to report their experience at www.oregonconsumer.gov.
- Oregon House Passes Contact Tracing Privacy Bill
- Watch Out for Imposter Contact Tracers! (English | Russian | Spanish)