Avoiding Coronavirus Scams

Scammers are out to make a profit by exploiting health issues, and by taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. They’re making phone calls, and setting up websites to sell bogus products. They set up fake sites that look official, then send emails, offering you tests, masks, cures, you name it.

The emails and social media posts may claim to be promoting awareness and prevention tips, or they may be citing fake information about cases in your area. They may may offer PPE for your employees and your business.

Donation scams are always big, and when a crisis arises, they pop up by asking you to donate to victims.  

They may try to sell you an item that’s nonexistent, or one that’s counterfeit – and there is the always looming threat of the malicious email attachments to be warry of.

The Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission offer the below tips to avoid coronavirus scams.

Avoid online offers for coronavirus-related vaccines or cures; they aren’t legitimate.

Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.

Don’t click on links or download files from unexpected emails, even if the email address looks like a company or person you recognize. Ditto for text messages and unfamiliar websites.

Don’t share personal information such as Social Security, Medicare and credit card numbers in response to an unsolicited call, text or email.

Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ignore phone calls or emails from strangers urging you to invest in a hot new coronavirus stock.

Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?

Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it. 

Be wary of fundraising calls or emails seeking money for disease research, especially if they pressure you to act fast and request payment by prepaid debit cards or gift cards.  

Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

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