Everyone is interested in the latest news on the fast developing situation around COVID-19 or Coronavirus. Of course, scammers are attempting to use the situation to their advantage. The following are some of the things to keep in mind to avoid Coronavirus scams:
Be leery of products marketed as being able to prevent or cure Coronavirus as they are probably Coronavirus scams.
These may include supplements, teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver. There is no scientific evidence to back up the claims for these products. At best it may be a waste of your money. At worst they may attempt to get your financial information when you order. Remember the products the CDC approved to actually help prevent the spread include hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content, Lysol and Chlorox products. And the best prevention is still washing your hands frequently and after touching a shared surface (wash for at least 20 seconds.)
There is no approved vaccine to prevent or cure Coronavirus.
Research is continuing but a vaccine is many months away. Right now there are no pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus either online or in stores. For updates on Coronavirus testing you can check the medicare.gov website for more information.
To avoid Coronavirus scams, do not click on links from sources you don’t know.
The Federal Trade Commission has also set up a site to check with for new scams. This site can be checked from time to time for updates.
A Coronavirus scam may also target your generous impulse or desire to help others at this time.
So beware of making donations whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let someone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, just say no! Remember that they can capture your account information through a scam this way. Only use links you trust or were already using before. The FTC has a link to help protect you at charities(https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams).
Phishing is one of the simplest ways to break into computers.
You receive an email from someone you do not know. The subject line may read Coronavirus or COVID-19. Since everyone wants the latest information, chances are many will click on the link to open the email. It actually contains malware or spyware that can steal usernames, passwords, credit card numbers and other data stored in the user’s browser which makes it a Coronavirus scam. One rule of thumb is that if an email asks you to click on a link or go somewhere, it may be trouble. If you really want to read it, try to validate the link in some other way (independently on line).
And scammers often try to capitalize on greed.
Maybe you will get a link promising you can invest in a company developing a treatment or cure for this disease. They may promise or imply big returns on your investment. As with any other financial move, due diligence is required on your part. Undoubtedly there are some publicly traded companies working on vaccines or other treatments for Coronavirus. Some of these will have a payout down the line when their product proves effective and is approved for release. But there is no way to guess in advance which treatment will work and get approval. So another good rule of thumb is that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!