Avoiding COVID-19 Scams and Price Gouging


Be aware of the sources of information you’re viewing. The government (the United States or your state) and reputable medical sources (e.g., The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Johns Hopkins University) are the best places to look for reliable, accurate information about the virus and any questions you may have about it and what’s being done. Social media sites and Wikipedia are not, as anyone with a computer can place information on those sites.

The Federal Trade Commission has a website with valuable information and links to additional sources - some of which is summarized below.


What You Can Do

Below are tips and suggestions for scams to watch out for.

Electronic Contacts

Robocalls – do not respond to them, press any buttons, or provide any information. Hang up.

Emails and texts –

Be very wary of any messages about checks from the government. The stimulus payments, officially known as Economic Impact Payments, can be requested through the IRS's website: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus-tax-relief-and-economic-impact-payments. Read more about scams to watch out for: https://www.newsweek.com/coronavirus-stimulus-check-scams-fraud-identity-theft-warning-safety-tips-irs-millions-await-1497520.

Beware of emails claiming to offer medical information. To ensure you’re getting accurate information, go to the online source yourself rather than clicking a link in an email. Double-check any information yourself before you rely on it for any decision you’ll be making or pass it on to others as factual.

Other sources – don’t click on links to websites or sources you don’t recognize or know. You could allow a virus to enter your device. Instead, search for the website or information yourself.


Medical Scams

Vaccinations, tests, or treatments – as of April 2020, there is no COVID-19 specific treatment or vaccine. Anyone claiming otherwise is not being truthful. Direct specific questions about your personal health to your doctor, and seek general information about COVID-19 from reputable sources like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).


Price Gouging

This occurs when sellers charge high prices for in-demand goods in a crisis, like $10 for a package of toilet paper, to take unfair advantage of the high demand. Many localities and states have specific laws prohibiting price gouging, like San Mateo, California and the State of Texas. A comprehensive list of states’ price-gouging laws can be found here.

Many states’ attorneys general receive complaints about price gouging from citizens’ first-hand experiences, like Michigan and Virginia, which also allow telephonic and online reporting of price gouging. The complete list of state attorney general websites for making these complaints is:

Alabama Link
Alaska Link
Arizona Link
Arkansas Link
California Link
Colorado Link
Connecticut Link
Delaware Link
Florida Link
Georgia Link
Hawaii Link
Idaho Link
Illinois Link
Indiana Link
Iowa Link
Kansas Link
Kentucky Link
Louisiana Link
Maine Link
Maryland Link
Massachusetts Link
Michigan Link
Minnesota Link
Mississippi Link
Missouri Link
Montana Link
Nebraska Link
Nevada Link
New Hampshire Link
New Jersey Link
New Mexico Link
New York Link
North Carolina Link
North Dakota Link
Ohio Link
Oklahoma Link
Oregon Link
Pennsylvania Link
Rhode Island Link
South Carolina Link
South Dakota Link
Tennessee Link
Texas Link
Utah Link
Vermont Link
Virginia Link
Washington Link
West Virginia Link
Wisconsin Link
Wyoming Link
Washington, D.C. Link
Puerto Rico Link



Research any charity to which you’re considering donating money.