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Hitting the breaking news recently, the coronavirus is slowly plaguing our planet with an incurable virus. It all started in China and has worked its way into other countries, including the United States. People who are healthy may not need to worry as much since it is more than likely you will recover from it. However, those who are older or with weakened immune systems do need to be more careful with this virus since there have been reported deaths.
While this is a serious issue, there are many people who are using this hard time in some people’s lives as a scamming opportunity. Many scammers know that we all want a cure to this virus, so they trick us with phony expensive cures to steal our funds.
However, we shouldn’t be as tricked since we have seen this with other viruses. For example, with H1N1 (swine flu), there were fake products that were released 48 hours after the news release of this virus to “treat” it. In reality, these products never worked. They were only made so that scammers could make money.
The FDA had to send out warning letters to companies making fake cures to stop making these unlawful claims and to remove these products immediately. Also for Ebola, people would make outrageous claims, like how dark chocolate or Nanosilver could supposedly cure this virus. For the Zika virus, they either had fake natural repellent sprays, wristbands, and even condoms.
While there have been scams with other viruses, there are still many types of coronavirus scams that occur. Even though some people are suffering from this virus, scammers don’t care about their victims, they care about getting their victims’ money! Here are the top four coronavirus scams that we should watch out for and how to avoid them.
Grandparent and family scams often occur at night and target older adults. You will answer your phone and hear someone saying, “Grandma” or “Grandpa”. Maybe you’re a little tired, as it’s the evening and you don’t think twice when they ask you for a loan.
They’ll say that they’ve contracted the virus and are homebound and in quarantine. They will ask you to send them a gift card online, immediately, so they can buy delivery food or supplies. You’ll be upset and do so, without thinking twice. The caller will actually be a scammer and keep your money.
How to Avoid: Always check your caller ID to make sure it is actually your loved one calling you. If you feel like scammers are masking the caller ID to make it seem like it’s your loved one, call them back on their trusted phone number to confirm and verify it’s them. Don’t send money over the phone, even if it is someone you think you trust and always give it to them in person.
You might love natural products, but if people are trying to sell you colloidal silver or aromatherapy to combat the virus, you’re being scammed. There are currently no viable antibiotics for the Coronavirus and natural products are not, in any way, proven to do the trick and fight this illness.
The FTC is compiling these fraudulent scams and products and has released a list. You might see these scam products shared on social media with testimonials or warnings about the disease, don’t fall for them and keep your money for items you might actually need if you’re sick (like tissues or face masks).
How to Avoid: Do not believe anyone who says they have found a natural remedy to cure the Coronavirus. Chances are they just want to sell you fake products so that they can take your hard-earned money to leave you broke and sick. The only ways to get better from the Coronavirus are to get rest, go to the doctor, and keep hydrated.
You love your friends and family and don’t want them to fall ill. However, if you are asked to contribute to a fund to develop a vaccine to fight against Coronavirus, you’re being scammed!
You might even receive a “secret” call, email, or text about a supposed government vaccine that only you and a select few are privy to. If it sounds too good to be true it is, especially in regards to the coronavirus. Don’t give the solicitor your credit card information, or it will be compromised/stolen and used!
How to Avoid: Don’t listen to anyone who asks you for money over the phone, no matter what the excuse is! If someone you don’t know asks for money over the phone, chances are they are probably a scammer trying to steal your money. Hospitals and universities will be the ones to help fund vaccines and research to try and find a cure, and they won’t bug people on the phone to help them.
You receive a fake email which looks legitimate. It reads as if it was sent from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). The email might link to a product that will “help you” However, the email is actually a scam and not really sent by the organization it appears to be from.
How to Avoid: Don’t click on any email that claims it has a product to help cure you of the coronavirus. The cure will be on legitimate news pages before an email gets sent out listing a cure for this illness. If you still aren’t sure of whether to trust the email, look at the “reply to” email address and all hyperlinks in the email. They will link you to outside websites that are not secure and can collect all your financial data or download malware.
According to the CDC and WHO, to protect yourself you need to take safety precautions like washing your hands often and – especially – after you touch common surfaces (at home or in public). Avoid busy, large crowds, or touching your face, mouth, nose, and eyes when your hands are unwashed.
Dispose of used tissue and wipe down commonly used objects (door handles, etc.) with sanitizer. Face masks are most helpful if you’re the sick one (to avoid spreading the germs to others), not the one trying to avoid getting sick.
If you encounter a coronavirus scam, contact local law enforcement or file a complaint with the FTC. If your information was compromised (financial and personal data), check your credit report and request a credit freeze.
While we shouldn’t panic, we can stay safe with good hygiene and remembering that most people stay healthy and recover fast, even from COVID-19. Do a reverse search on email addresses, usernames, profile images, phone numbers and more at Social Catfish!