Unless you have very good spam filters on your email, you have probably already noticed that criminal elements are switching over to coronavirus email scams. You have probably had at least one ad for protective masks get through. Criminals are also likely to approach individuals and businesses who are desperate for money and information alike.
Here are some scams already circulating:
Fake Home Testing Kits and Shady Treatments
Companies are advertising home testing kits (none of which have been approved) or treatments. In some cases these treatments may be or purport to be drugs mentioned in the news. Herbal supplements of doubtful efficacy are also on offer. Everyone wants to protect themselves and their loved ones from this horrible disease. Oh, and no, colloidal silver will not work. Nor will fish tank cleaner. (Do not attempt to self-medicate for COVID with some treatment you heard about on the internet. Talk to your doctor).
Fake Emails from the CDC, WHO or Other Experts
Unless you have actually subscribed to a mailing list (Johns Hopkins has a decent one), the CDC, WHO, and other organizations will not email you COVID related information. Don’t click on links in emails that purport to provide such information; they could be malware. Or they could lead to dangerous information, or to alarmist theories that will make you even more inclined to stay home. Do your own research to get the right information. There’s also been at least one incident of an email purporting to be from the World health Organization that downloads an attached document. Needless to say, it’s malware.
With a lot of people experiencing financial hardship, the charity scammers are, of course, out in force. Donate only to registered charities (Use Charity Navigator for research) or to people you personally know, not to random GoFundMes on the internet. Pay by credit card, or a reputable payment processor, not gift card or wire transfer.
Stimulus Check Scams
If you are eligible for the stimulus check, you will receive a direct deposit or the check will be mailed to you if they don’t have your bank account on file. This is automatic. Some scammers have been trying to get people’s bank account, or asking for a fee to expedite these checks. This is also happening in the UK, where scammers are promising to get government money fast, in some cases from programs that aren’t fully established yet.
The robocalls have switched to offering cheap, scammy health insurance or other COVID-related stuff. As always, hang up on robocalls immediately or, better yet, let them go to voice mail. Never press any buttons; all that does is tell them they have a legitimate number to sell to other robocalls. The FTC has been taking action but, as usual, the robocalls are hard to stop.
Scammers claim to be selling in-demand products, such as masks and toilet paper. Victims place an order only to have it never show up; the goods likely never even existed. Always check sellers by searching on their name plus words like “complaint,” “review,” or “scam.” If it’s possible to order from a company you are already familiar with, do.
Given how little we know, even well-meaning people are spreading misinformation. This has led to things like people buying up horse wormer because it might be effective (albeit not in horse doses…) against the virus. People have already died from self-medicating with so-called cures. Information that indicates something will protect you against COVID could result in you putting yourself and others in more danger, while alarmist “information” can have a mental health impact. As already mentioned, check everything with reputable sources.
It’s unsurprising that criminals would take advantage of the situation. We all need to be careful and avoid being caught out by these scams, many of which are variants on existing issues. If you need more help protecting yourself and your employees from coronavirus scammers, contact 4 Corner IT today.