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Stay sharp – don’t fall for these coronavirus scams

Consumer Tips
Stay sharp – don’t fall for these coronavirus scams

The coronavirus outbreak has brought out scammers of all types hoping to prey on people looking for answers in a time of need.

For every crisis, there’s a person looking to make a profit off it – and not in a legitimate way. The coronavirus has spawned several scams to lure people into giving up things like bank account numbers, Social Security numbers and other personal info.

You can stay one step ahead of these scammers by being prepared. See some of the most common cons related to the pandemic.

Offers for “free,” at-home coronavirus testing equipment

There is no at-home test for coronavirus. You must go to an approved testing site. If someone claims they can sell you a test to take at home, it’s a scam.

Here is a list of drive-up testing centers in the area. Please follow instructions on when and how to go to these.

Solicitations for charitable donations to the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The WHO is run by the United Nations. The CDC is funded by taxpayer money.

The only call for donations WHO has issued is the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Any other appeal for funding or donations that appears to be from WHO is a scam. You can verify if communication is legit by contacting WHO directly. The CDC would never ask you to donate money to help them.

Also watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the websites of the CDC and the WHO.

Requests for your bank account numbers in regard to government stimulus checks

You’ll either get your stimulus check by direct deposit or in the mail. Read this article for more information on how checks are being calculated and distributed.

The government will not call you to ask for your account information. If they do, it’s a scam. You’ll usually be able to tell because it’s an automated robocall voice.

Delivery services offering products like hand sanitizer, toilet paper and disinfectant wipes

These products are a hot commodity right now. You probably need some of them. If you receive a text, email or phone call saying that someone can deliver them straight to your door, don’t give them a credit card number.

Websites and text messages claiming to take you to valuable coronavirus resources

Please only get coronavirus updates and news from reputable sources. If you receive a random text message that claims to have all the information you need, don’t click the link in it. It’s most likely a phishing scam. Learn how to report spam text messages here.

Phony doctors claiming they’ll come to your house and perform a coronavirus test

Doctors aren’t making house calls to test for coronavirus. You must go to an approved testing center. See the first item above for testing centers near you.

Claims that a product is a cure for coronavirus

According to the FTC, products hocked by scammers include things like teas, essential oils and colloidal silver. These companies have no evidence to back up their claims, which is required by law.

Make sure you practice good “cyber hygiene” so you don’t fall victim to these scams

  • Don’t open attachments or click on links within emails or texts from senders you don’t recognize.
  • Don’t give out your username, password, date of birth, Social Security number, financial data or any other personal information.
  • Verify the web addresses you’re visiting to make sure they’re legit.
  • Check for misspellings or wrong domains within a link (i.e., an address that should end in .gov ends in .com instead).

Imposters requesting money

Scammers may pose as officials from government agencies and call to offer information on people close to you who have the virus, or they pretend to be doctors and hospitals and claim they’ve treated a friend or relative for COVID-19 and demand payment. Don’t be tricked into giving them money.

“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. These Ponzi-related schemes will become prevalent as troubled investment companies seek to cover their losses through fraud and other investors’ money.

Fake job ads to lure the unemployed

If you reach someone who says they will wire money to you or send a fake check and ask you to purchase goods, gift cards or other items and then send such items back to them, it’s a scam.

Claims to make your home free from bacteria and coronarvirus

While they promise they can disinfect your home, clean air ducts, etc., fake cleaning services only have one thing in mind — wiping you out of your money.

Malware inserted into fake sites and apps

Fraudsters have created fake websites to exploit Johns Hopkins University’s interactive Coronavirus dashboard to spread malware. Cybersecurity firms have identified several fake coronavirus interactive maps that infect user devices with credential-stealing malware. Fraudsters are circulating links to these malicious websites containing coronavirus maps through social media, phishing emails and even mobile apps .