Coronavirus Scams to be Careful of

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a swirling storm of chaos across the globe, and with any crisis – just like the hurricanes we experience in South Florida – there are people looking to exploit confusion for their own profit. Some are creating false storefronts and offering hard-to-find items that once paid for, never get delivered. Others are creating schemes via text messages, emails, apps or phone calls. Some of the below are even spreading as fast as the virus itself. As a South Florida consumer, be weary of these and many other scams out there. Stick to trusted sources in times like these.

 

The Friend of the Friend in the CDC

You’ve probably already seen this pop up in your social media feeds or in a group WhatsApp chat – it’s the friend of the friend who has an aunt, cousin or someone they know that works for the government and has inside information about the disease, a vaccine, homemade remedy or details on a lack of essential services. It’s not true. Remain skeptical of panic inducing messages from obscure sources. Focus on facts from reputable news outlets only.

 

Government Checks

Many Americans will receive their $1,200 from the government in the next few weeks while small businesses are actively pursuing the new PPL loans that became available. But anyone that calls you asking for your social security number, bank account or credit card number is looking to scam you. The federal government will not ask you personally for this, unless you are small business and filling out the appropriate PPL forms from your accredited lender. You will not be asked to pay anything up front in order to receive funds.

 

Vaccine Reservations

All scientific evidence indicates that the potential for a vaccine available to the general public is still probably 12 – 18 months away. In the meantime, scammers are out there posing as the CDC, knocking on doors claiming to be with the World Health Organization and other official entities asking for a deposit on a vaccine reservation. The problem is there is no vaccine reservation program and there will never be. Do not give out your personal information to anyone.

 

Phishing

Even during normal times, phishing is a problem. This is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. With Coronavirus, the phishing problem has been exacerbated. Now more than ever, do not click on links or files unless you know 100 percent what’s in the file and from whom it originated. One in particular is linked to COVID-19 tracking maps. Don’t click on those. You’re better off going directly to the Florida Department of Health or the CDC’s website for your information.