As if the spread of Coronavirus isn’t bad enough, clients need to be aware of the rapidly escalating number of Coronavirus scams.
What scams are out there?
The scams include websites selling fake products, and fake emails, texts and social media posts designed to steal your money and personal information.
The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips along with phony information about cases in your neighborhood. They may also ask for donations to victims, provide advice on unproven treatments, or contain damaging attachments.
How can I avoid getting scammed?
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.
- Watch for fake emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) or from health experts saying have information about the virus. Check here for more information on how to spot a phishing (fake) email.
- For legitimate up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations, prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus. If there is a breakthrough, you’ll hear about it from your doctor, not online.
- Do the 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. Before sharing any credit card information online, make sure the site uses encryption technology to protect you. Check the address bar on the page requiring sensitive information to be posted. The URL should begin with “https.” The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates that sensitive information will be encrypted and transmitted securely.
- Do not assume a web address with an “.org” rather than a “.com” ending is a non-profit organization. Anyone can purchase an “.org” web address. To determine if a group has tax-exempt status, go to the IRS website or check with charitable watchdog sites like Charity Navigator or Charity Watch.
- Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The SEC is warning investors 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. Don’t believe it. There’s no cure for Coronavirus yet, so anyone claiming to have vaccinations or other treatments for the virus is trying to sell you a bill of goods.