As we all have been worrying about the Coronavirus that is running rampant throughout the world, I bet you were hoping that you would just need to worry about keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from getting ill. Unfortunately no. Even through this pandemic there are others that are trying their best to make easy money from scamming the unsuspecting- even online. This coronavirus has been more awful than anyone ever imagined. While I have loved having my sons and husband home with me so much, it has been heartbreaking to see the damaging mass affects it has had on the world. Why, oh why, do we have to also worry about being tricked into purchasing and believing in false help during this pandemic?
I have received a couple articles from some concerned readers, shout out to Mark and Matthew! Thank you for this great information that I am using to wrap up my Fraud Against Seniors Mini Series!
Coronavirus scams to avoid
Watch out for scammy websites
Fraudulent websites can come in a variety of types, but a couple major ones include the following:
- IT-themed sites that purport to help you work remotely.
- Coronavirus-themed sites that purport to track the disease or help the afflicted.
Naturally, having an effective internet connection is vital to doing your remote work effectively, and scammers have become sophisticated enough to target those who are working at home.
Steer clear of products that claim to prevent the disease
Although some people claim that there is overreaction regarding the severity of COVID-19, let’s face it, it’s a dangerous virus. As such, plenty of people are frantically searching for preventative treatments and cures.
And when there’s demand, there’s supply. New websites and ads popped up, claiming to offer products that can prevent or cure coronavirus. In addition, many existing companies are starting to flaunt coronavirus claims around their products.
Researchers are working feverishly to find an effective treatment, cure or vaccine. Should one become available, governmental authorities will notify the public.
In addition, the FTC and the Food and Drug Administration have been working to get bogus cures off store shelves. They’ve issued warning letters to sellers of unapproved or mislabeled products that claim to treat the diseases, including teas, essential oils and colloidal silver.
Masks and other equipment
As you’ve probably heard, sales of protective masks have gone through the roof, with many companies struggling to meet demand. Again, when there’s high demand, crooks are standing ready to make a quick buck.
Other items that may be for sale include protective gloves and coronavirus testing kits. The latter are not commercially available, so anyone claiming to sell them is definitely trying to scam you. For example, below is a Russian site (coronavirustest.ru) claiming to sell “the best and fastest virus test” that “will determine if there is a virus in the blood” in just five minutes.
There are several schemes that could play out when it comes to purchasing coronavirus-related products online:
- Extortionate prices
- False claims
- Defective products
- Stolen personal information
Be on guard against “safe” or “guaranteed” investments
Scammers often promise higher-return investments that they say are safe, especially from the downturns in the market due to the coronavirus and the response to it. You need to be especially careful around such claims. Unless an adviser is putting your money in an FDIC-backed bank account, any promises of gains without the potential for loss are empty.
The FDIC is warning people about scammers using its name for fraudulent purposes, and says that the agency does not send unsolicited mail asking for money or personal information. And it will never ask for personal financial details such as bank account information or credit card numbers.
Just today I received a bank statement in the mail, and on the back of the envelope it states, “(Insert Bank name as this applies to all FDIC insured banks) will NEVER call or email and ask you to verify your PIN or other account information. Update your contact information and set up alerts via our secure website…”
If you’re in dire need of cash, for example, to make a mortgage or payment during this crisis, many lenders are willing to be more flexible and work with you right now. Many banks are also stepping up to waive fees and help consumers stay on track with their personal loans despite losses in income.
As you can see there are so many scams out there and they are constantly changing. As I finish the last of this Fraud Against Seniors Mini Series the most important things I wish you to remember are:
1. Use common sense
2. Learn to spot phishing emails and sites
3. Only purchase from trusted sites
4. Use antivirus software
5. Visit reputable sites for coronavirus information
How to report scams
- National Fraud Information Center (NFIC) (Phone 1-800-654-7060)
- FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
- National Center For Disaster Fraud (Phone 1-866-720-5721)
- Federal Trade Commission (Phone 1-877-382-4357)
- Better Business Bureau (Phone 1-703-525-8277)
- The attorney general’s office for your state
- Postal Crime Hotline (Phone 1-800-654-8896)
Information for this article was taken from: