How To Avoid COVID-19 Scams

Times of crisis bring out the best in people, and the worst in scammers. With so much information coming out daily, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Here are seven simple suggestions to avoid falling prey to a scammer:

#1. Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers.
​​Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from fake 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. Here are a few sample robocalls from coronavirus scammers pretending to be from the Social Security Administration or offering fake coronavirus tests to Medicare recipients.

#2. Do not verify personal information via phone, email or text for stimulus money or other incentives
Anyone calling to “verify” personal information for you to receive stimulus money is a scammer. When the time comes, people will not be asked to verify information via phone, email or text. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money immediately is a scammer. Emails that say you are eligible for a government refund or a coupon for free goods are fraudulent. Stimulus payments will likely be linked to how people pay for their tax returns.

#3. Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits.
Scammers are trying to entice you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the coronavirus – online or in stores. Currently, there are also no FDA-authorized home test kits for the virus.

#4. Fact-check information.
Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages or emails, contact trusted sources. Many scammers are posing as reputable organizations. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, log-on to the following sites directly.

Coronavirus.gov – medical information
CDC.gov – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
WHO.int – The World Health Organization (WHO)
usa.gov/coronavirus – federal government response

#5. Know who you’re buying from.
Online sellers may claim to have stockpiles of in-demand items, like cleaning and household products and/or health and medical supplies when, in fact, they do not. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

#6. Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know.
Links may download viruses onto your computer or device. Scammers also use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information. They may try to steal your passwords, account numbers or even SSN. Reputable companies will never ask you to give personal information online or over the phone.

#7. Do your homework when it comes to donations.
If someone asks for donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, don’t do it. This is a scam.