Protecting Yourself From More Than Just Covid-19
Coronavirus scams are spreading nearly as fast as the virus itself. This year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has logged over 180,000 consumer complaints related to COVID-19, with 68 percent of them involving fraud or identity theft.
Since January, increasing amounts of new website domains have been registered with terms related to COVID-19, many being shut down for falsely promising vaccines and other aid.
These fraudsters have begun posing as contact tracers prompting the FTC and the Justice Department to issue an alert about these phishing attempts. The scam messages include a link that, if clicked, downloads malware to your device. Any messages from real contact tracers that work for public health agencies will not include a link or ask for your personal information.
Individuals have not been the only target of scammers as small businesses are being targeted as well. Scammers have been linked to accessing Paycheck Protection Program funds intended to help smaller firms survive through this tough economic time.
The outbreak has also spawned stock scams. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is warning investors about scammers advertising investments in companies with products that supposedly can prevent, detect or cure COVID-19. They promise a high return on your investment simply by purchasing their stocks now.
Practice caution when you browse for information about coronavirus on the internet. Use only legitimate sources like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on updates about vaccines and other related items.
6 Quick Tips To Avoid Covid-19 Scams
- Avoid calls, emails, and other online offers for coronavirus-related vaccines or advertisements for “free” government-ordered COVID-19 tests. Check the FDA website for a list of approved tests and testing companies.
- Do not click on links or download files from unexpected emails or text messages even if they look like a company or person you recognize.
- Do not share personal information such as Social Security, Medicare and credit card numbers in response to an unsolicited call, text or email. Contact tracing does not require that information.
- Real contact tracers do not ask about immigration status. If you are asked, it is likely a scam.
- Be skeptical of fundraising calls or emails for COVID-19 victims or virus research, especially if they request payment by prepaid debit cards or gift cards.
- Ignore phone calls or emails urging you to invest in a new coronavirus stock.
Markowitz, John Waggoner and Andy. “Coronavirus Scams – Beware Fake Claims, Phony Websites.” AARP, www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2020
“Coronavirus Advice for Consumers.” Federal Trade Commission, 28 Aug. 2020, www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice.
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Posted September 18, 2020 in Lifestyle News Articles