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FTC Warns Against Coronavirus Scams

by Suzanne Kantra on February 10, 2020

The FTC is warning that scammers are taking advantage of people’s fear of the Coronavirus. The scams take a couple of different forms. First, there are sites set up to sell bogus products, including cures and protective gear. Second, scammers are using fake emails, texts, and social media posts to steal money and personal data.

The email and posts seem like they’re informational, sharing tips about prevention and fake information about Coronavirus cases in your area. They may ask you to donate to victims or to buy unproven treatments. Or, the email may have malicious attachments or links. Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity company, shared a couple of examples of coronavirus phishing emails that were designed to look like they were from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In one, there is a link to "new cases around your city" and the other asks for donations in Bitcoin. 

It may be tempting to click, but it pays to be extra careful. The FTC suggests the following:

  1. Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
  2. Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that 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).
  3. Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
  4. 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.
  5. Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people 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.

[Image credit: Coronavirus scam concept via BigStockPhoto]


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