As with all major crises, there are scammers lurking in the wings just waiting for their opportunity to take advantage of the situation. The recent spread of COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus) is no different. Here are some scams that you should be aware of in order to keep you, your family, and financial information safe.
Malicious links disguised as helpful information, such as a map that shows the spread of the virus, are being passed around via social media and through email attachments. Ensure that all links are coming from a legitimate source and, when in doubt, go directly to the source yourself and skip hyperlinks all together.
EMAILS FROM TRUSTED SOURCES
Chances are that you have been receiving emails informing you of steps that specific companies are taking during this time. Scammers will take advantage of this by creating emails from a source you think you can trust, but really leads you towards infecting your computer/mobile device. For example, you may receive an email from the World Health Organization notifying you of a confirmed case near you and a link to find out where it is. Do not click on anything unless you are expecting it. Go directly to websites for the WHO and CDC for updates and information regarding the virus. If you are working from home, fraudsters may create fake emails that appear to be from your employer. Show caution when clicking on links and don't open anything you weren't expecting.
As of this posting, there are currently no vaccinations, over-the-counter medications, oils, lotions, etc. that can cure COVID-19. Any offers for these types of products that are specifically for COVID-19 should be disregarded for the time being. There are also no at home testing kits available for purchase at this time. If you are experiencing symptoms, please reach out to your doctor.
While a lot of us may be looking for ways to help, be wary of online crowdfunding. While most major websites have protocols in place if cons are discovered, scammers can find workarounds. If a person is requesting a donation in an unusual way, such as cash, gift card, or wiring money; this may be a sign it’s not legitimate.
With so many in demand items, such as masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning solutions, paper towels, etc., being out of stock, fraudsters are creating fake websites and social media profiles that claim to have these items available for sale. After giving them your credit card information, you never hear from them again and never recieve your items. As much as possible, stick to leigitmate sources that you know you can trust. If you aren't sure if a company is legitimate or not, use resources such as FakeSpot.com before making any purchases.