As usual when an emergency occurs, scammers are taking advantage of fears about COVID-19. They’re setting up websites to sell phony products and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as ways to take your money and get your personal information.
The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips and giving fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They also may be asking you to donate to victims or offering advice on unproven treatments. In addition, the emails and posts also can contain malicious email attachments.
Colleen Tressler, consumer education specialist for the Federal Trade Commission, offers these tips to help you avoid scams:
- 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.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for COVID-19, 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 alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission 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 COVID-19 and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.