Protecting yourself against fraud during times of crisis
April 7, 2020
During uncertain times like this, it is important to be on guard and aware of situations and circumstances around you. Criminals are using this global pandemic as an opportunity to take advantage of you in the form of fraud or scams. Some examples of reported scams from The U.S. Dept. of Justice are:
• Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
• Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• Malicious websites and apps that appear to share virus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
• Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.
We encourage you to read through this list, and to do your own research, so that you can be more informed about these situations.
Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay: (as provided by the Federal Trade Commission website - https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing
• Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls
to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
• Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA
to learn more.
• Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing
for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
• Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers
may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
• Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government
. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
• Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know
. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
• Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC
) and the World Health Organization (WHO
• Do your 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.
If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home though a number of platforms. Go to:
Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud
Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email
Report it to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov
If it's a cyber scam, submit your complaint through https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx