You’re no doubt hearing wonderful anecdotes about friends, neighbors and even strangers helping others during this crisis. Sadly, some nefarious people are exploiting these difficult times for their own gain.
Here are tips from the Federal Trade Commission to keep you from getting conned:
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
- Beware of emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization or other agencies. For up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit their websites directly.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations. No real vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges, prescriptions or over-the-counter products exist to treat or cure COVID-19.
The FTC says to also watch out for:
Undelivered goods: Anyone can start and online site easily and quickly, under almost any name. Scammers create sites that claim to have products you can’t find elsewhere, such as cleaning, household, health and medical supplies. You place an order, but you never get your shipment. Before you buy online, search online for the person or company’s name, phone number and email address–and add the words “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” You’ll quickly see if others have had bad experiences.
Fake emails, texts and phishing: Scammers use fake emails or texts to get you to share valuable personal information —such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords.You get tricked when they use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know. Sometimes, the information they send you is real –because they want you to click the attachment that infects your device with malware.
Protect yourself by keeping your software current and use security software.Your cell phone should also be set for automatic security updates.
Robocalls: Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The best advice is to just hang up. Don’t press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from a call list, but it might lead to more robocalls instead.
Misinformation and rumors: Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, and certainly before you pay someone or share your personal information, verify the information by contacting trusted sources.
Imposter scams: Crooks solicit donations, steal personal information or distribute malware by impersonating government, international or health care agencies, like the CDC and WHO.
Product and investment scams: The FTC, FDA, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network are warning about:
- Marketing of fake COVID-19-related supplies, such as face masks.
- COVID-19-related investment scams, including promotions that falsely claim that products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect or cure the coronavirus.
- COVID-19-related insider trading.
- Pump-and-dump schemes, where scammers con investors into buying low-priced stocks, which drive up their prices – letting the crooks sell their own shares at a quick profit. Prices then collapse, leaving the investors with worthless securities.
If you have doubts about any investment offer you receive, call us before you buy. We’ll help you verify if the offer is legitimate, before you put your savings at risk.