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Beware of Coronavirus Scams

Thursday, 12 March 2020 04:00

Coronavirus has captured everyone's attention, including criminals. The bad guys are exploiting health and financial anxieties to steal your personal information, identity, and money.

Fraudsters call or send emails, presenting themselves as health officials or government representatives from agencies like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Or, they pose as retailers offering health products. They can be charities asking for donations.

What the scams have in common is they want you to take action as soon as possible.

Keep reading for a rundown of recent scams with pointers to stay safe. And, see this excellent Coronavirus Scams resource from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Don't fall for it! An unofficial-looking email arrives out of the blue. If you click a link in this unexpected email or download a PDF file to "learn about safety measures you can take against spreading the virus” your computer could be infected with malware. Or, you could be directed to a webpage designed to steal your personal information.

Other scams. Beware of in-home Coronavirus testing kits and other pandemic-related services and supplies for sale. Scammers, posing as IRS employees or other officials, may call or email to trick you into providing confidential information – so they can “deposit $1,200+ federal assistance payments.” Fake charities are also on the rise, so only give to reputable organizations.

Remember. Once you enter your credit or debit card number, financial account information, or other personal information, the scammer can make fraudulent purchases, drain money from your account, or steal your identity.

What You Can Do

Beware of requests for personal information. Scammers seek personal information like your Social Security number or login information.

Resist the clicks. Never click a link or download an attachment you weren't expecting from an unknown sender. Stay alert and don't be a victim!

Check an email address or link by hovering your mouse over it. It may resemble a legitimate address but look closely and you may discover it's a fake.

Watch for awkward language in emails. If you see spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors, you’ve probably received a phishing email.

Look for greetings that aren't personalized.

“Dear sir or madam” could indicate the email is designed for the masses and is a scam.

Does the caller (or email) demand that you act now? Criminals create a sense of urgency to get people to provide personal information immediately.

Stay Informed

Visit the FTC’s Coronavirus Scams page for the latest information about scams. For health-related information, visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) website. Or, contact your state or county health department.