What You Need to Know About COVID-19 ScamsPosted: March 26, 2020
As uncertainty and fear dominate news headlines, fraudsters looking to profit from global panic have unleashed hundreds of scams to get you to part with your hard-earned money. Acknowledging this growing surge in fraud attempts, we at SolidTrust Pay believe that it’s important to keep you, our valued members, informed about these threats.
To protect yourself from unscrupulous scammers, authorities are urging the public to stop and think before sharing personal information over the phone. A common scam involves fraudsters impersonating charities and health agencies and requesting money for victims. Additionally, as we look to the internet to provide answers to pressing questions about the pandemic, criminals are creating COVID-19 information sites with harmful links that can infect your computer with viruses and malware.
Increasingly, scammers are targeting their victims in person, going door to door and selling fraudulent products. Some scams that have been identified by law enforcement agencies include selling filters designed to protect against COVID-19, fake testing kits, and remedies that promise to increase a user’s immunity to the virus. Currently, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus and testing must be administered by trained personnel.
We advise you to beware of:
1. Unsolicited calls and texts providing medical advice or requesting urgent action or payment.
It is important that you never click on suspicious links or email attachments and never give out your personal or financial information to a person or organization that you did not initiate contact with.
2. Emails sent from official organizations requesting you to click on a link or open an attachment.
Cybercriminals are sending phishing emails designed to look like they originate from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The emails are often health alerts, falsely claiming to link to a list of coronavirus cases in your area.
3. Unauthorized or fraudulent charities requesting money for victims or research.
You should never feel pressured into making a donation and always verify that the charity is registered by asking for their registration number or going to their website.
4. Deceitful offers, such as vaccinations, immune-boosting remedies, and unregulated at-home testing kits.
5. Questionable online ads selling high demand items such as hand sanitizer and cleaning products.
Some of the scams that have already been reported to anti-fraud agencies include:
- Fraudsters posing as heating or cleaning companies offering special filters to protect you and your family against COVID-19 or household decontamination services.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) offering fake lists for sale of COVID-19 infected people in your neighbourhood.
- Various public health agencies giving false results saying you have tested positive for COVID-19. These scammers then trick their victims into disclosing credit card numbers for a prescription.
- Red Cross and other known charities offering free medical products, such as masks, for a donation.
- Government departments sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails tricking you into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.
- Financial advisors pressuring you to invest in hot new stocks related to the disease or providing low-interest loans to help you get through the shutdowns.
- Door-to-door salesmen and private companies selling rapid COVID-19 test kits or fraudulent products that claim to treat or prevent the disease. There is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus and testing must be administered by trained personnel.
Always use caution when you’re solicited by an unknown individual or company, and always remember:
Don’t be afraid to say no: If a telemarketer tries to get you to buy something or urges you to send money to them right away, request the information in writing or simply hang up.
Do your research: Always verify that the organization you’re dealing with is legitimate before you take any action. You should look online for the company’s contact information and call them to confirm.
Watch out for deceptive ads or spoofed emails: Always verify the company and its services before you contact them.
Don’t give out personal information: Beware of unsolicited calls where the caller asks you for personal information. If you didn’t initiate the call, you don’t know who you’re talking to.
Beware of upfront fees: Many scams request you to pay fees in advance of receiving goods, services, or a prize. It’s illegal for a company to ask you to pay a fee upfront.
For trusted resources and advice about COVID-19, please reference the latest health information from these legitimate sources: