Officials say COVID-19 scams can be phone calls or they can happen when someone gets access to your information, like unemployment documents.By Casey Albritton

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Hillsborough County officials say they have seen an increase in scam calls and fraudulent activity related to the pandemic.

Officials say COVID-19 related scams can be phone calls or they can happen when someone is able to access your personal information such as unemployment paperwork. At Veteran’s Memorial Park, the county will hold its annual shred fest, where you can get rid of these documents safely.

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Eric Olsen, Manager of Hillsborough County Consumer Protective Services says “There are Covid scams that go on. Any time there’s a disaster, the pandemic is no different, fraudsters try to scam people, so they want to get money or information.”

Olsen, says it’s important people are aware of COVID-19-related scams.

“It’s what you might call the low-hanging fruit. It’s easy. They want to try to use a situation,” said Olsen.

He says he’s heard of COVID-19 scam calls about vaccines and more.

“Benefits, whether it’s the paycheck protection program, whether it’s unemployment benefits. Those types of frauds. Fraudulent filings,” said Olsen.

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Olsen says no one should be contacting you asking for any payments, especially about vaccines.

“If you haven’t initiated a request or if you haven’t initiated contact on your own someone cold-calling you is a big red flag to look for,” said Olsen.

If you do get a call like this, Olsen says you should call either law enforcement or the health department to confirm if it’s a scam or not.

“It’s something people should think about with their financial health,” said Olsen.

He says this weekend the county is holding its annual Shred Fest, in which you can have your personal documents safely disposed of, something Olsen says is important to do to avoid fraud.

“The materials we are talking about are old bank records, financial records, or records with personal identification information,” said Olsen.

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The Shred Fest is scheduled for Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Hillsborough County.