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April 9, 2020

Watch Out for These Coronavirus Scams

Fraudsters pay attention to headlines. They know about the fears and worries surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). They’re creating websites to sell bogus products and using fake emails, text messages or social media posts as bait to take your money and get your personal information.

Here are some tips from the FTC on how to avoid coronavirus scams:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. Unknown links could download a virus onto your computer or device. Sometimes, these scam links are well-disguised, so be sure you’re confident in both the sender and the link itself before clicking.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the CDC coronavirus webpage.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations or related health products. We are a long way off from a vaccine or any other medicine created specifically for the coronavirus. Be cautious and evaluate what you’re seeing by visiting well-known news sources. As always, be wary of news coming through on unknown channels or through social media articles with unofficial sources.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into contributing money. If someone wants donations in cash, gift cards or by wiring money, don’t do it! Legitimate charities will not ask you to donate this way.
  • Be wary of “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warns 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. Be wary of any “get rich quick” types of ads.

Here’s an update from the U.S. Department of Treasury about COVID-19 scams:

If you receive calls, emails or other communications claiming to be from the Treasury Department or IRS and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information, or an advance fee, or charge of any kind, including the purchase of gift cards, please do not respond. The IRS or Treasury will not call, email, text or otherwise inquire about personal information from you, nor require you to buy gift cards or pay fees of any kind to receive your stimulus check. These are scams.  Please contact the FBI to report scams so that the scammers can be tracked and stopped.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding these scams or others, please feel free to contact us at 800.839.6328.

The above information was adapted directly from the FTC and the U.S. Department of Treasury. You can visit ftc.gov for the latest consumer updates related to the coronavirus.


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