New Scams Hitting Maryland
Recently, scammers have been taking aim at Maryland residents in a variety of ways that you need to be aware of in order to protect yourself, your family, and your friends. Some of the major scams revolve around false unemployment insurance claims, COVID vaccine payments, the RELIEF Act, and utility bills. I was even the victim of a scam recently when my law firm received a false unemployment claim – alleging to be from me! Below you’ll find some of the latest unfortunate tactics that people are using. Keep an eye out and spread the word!
Unfortunately, scammers are filing false unemployment claims using stolen identities. Attorney General Frosh has set up this resource website if you believe someone has filed a false unemployment claim in your name.
To report fraud, you can:
- contact the Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance by visiting MDunemployment.com
- Email: email@example.com, or
- Call the UI Fraud Hotline at 1-800-492-6804
Some individuals are claiming to have COVID vaccine shots available for payment. The MD Insurance Administration wants to remind all of us that you cannot be charged for the COVID-19 vaccine or vaccinations. Providers can seek reimbursement from your insurance company, but there are no co-pays or cost sharing. If you are asked to pay money, call MIA at 800-492-6116.
Maryland utility providers such as Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), PEPCO, SMECO and Choptank Electric Cooperative have reported an uptick in scam attempts. Scammers are calling demanding an immediate cash payment to keep the utilities on, often requesting payoffs through digital transfers or cryptocurrency.
The providers have advised they will never ask customers to purchase prepaid debit cards or make digital transfers through Venmo/Cash App/etc to avoid service disconnection and will never ask customers for information they already have on file such as your full social security number or other identifying information that could be used for identity theft.
If you are unsure if the call is from your utility provider, trust your instincts. If BGE is your provider, you should hang up and call BGE immediately at 1-800-685-0123 or the police to report the scam. For Marylanders in the PEPCO service area, you can see ways to report scams here, SMECO here, and Choptank Electric Cooperative here.
With the recent passage of the RELIEF Act and hundreds of thousands of Marylanders receiving direct payments as well as tax credits, scammers will be looking to take advantage of unsuspecting residents.
However, a recent subset of Marylanders who did not have accurate information on file with the Comptroller’s office DID receive an authentic email from the Comptroller’s office asking for information in order to process the payment. Be aware that scammers will be looking to take advantage of this situation so please only communicate with the official channels. If you are not sure of the authenticity of an email, you can follow up directly by phone at 1-833-345-0787, by email at ReliefAct@marylandtaxes.gov, or read more information online at marylandtaxes.gov/RELIEFAct/.
Please be aware and trust your instincts in order to protect yourself. If something feels off, follow up directly with the government agency or company to check the authenticity. You can also report scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division or call my office and we can direct you on where to file a claim!