Police Officers Warn About This Coronavirus Scam

The CDC is calling on people to "put distance between [themselves] and other people." So, no, CDC employees are not knocking on doors.

Police car with alarm and signal light flashes on the roof rush emergency call in New York CityJANIFEST/Getty Images
As the entire world continues to be affected by the coronavirus, we’ve seen all sorts of heartwarming stories of neighbors helping one another that has made us feel hopeful. But sadly, there are still people who are taking advantage of the virus—as well as people’s fear and anxiety—to scam others.

In mid-March 2020, scammers were reportedly going door to door in several townships in northern and central New Jersey, pretending to be members of the CDC. According to the Manchester Township Police, the scammers were claiming to be conducting “surveillance” regarding the coronavirus and asking residents for information about how home residents were handling the virus. Presumably, the purpose of this was to get people to share personal information or even “donate” money.

The news of this scam began spreading via social media as residents posted about it. Because of the nature of social media, these reports were unconfirmed, and both the Moorestown and Piscataway police departments said that they received no official reports or calls about the scam. But they were seeing enough posts about the same type of scam to merit a warning. In addition, the confusing and uncertain nature of social media reports made people that much more afraid.

So several New Jersey police departments, including Manchester, Moorestown, Piscataway, Livingston, Franklin, and Long Branch, made their own social media posts telling residents not to fall for this scam.

Bottom line? No matter where you live, don’t answer the door for someone claiming they’re from the CDC (or the WHO, or any other well-known health organization). “The CDC is not deploying teams of people to go door to door to conduct surveillance,” the Moorestown Police Department announced. “People should be warned to not let them in their homes or to speak with them. They are imposters.” Needless to say, the CDC is urging people to avoid close contact with one another, so they certainly won’t be walking up to people’s houses.

Sadly, going door to door isn’t the only way people are taking advantage of the pandemic. People are also masquerading as health and charity organizations online. Here’s how scammers can use the coronavirus to steal your information.

Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for RD.com who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine. She is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.