Key Highlights

  • US Federal Trade Commission reports nearly $12M lost to COVID-19 scams
  • Scams range from travel and vacation refunds, mobile texting, cancellation deceptions and fake government websites/representations
  • Advice below on how to protect yourself from such scams

There are always people out there ready, willing and able to do you damage, particularly in uncertain, critical times like these. Already, according to the US Federal Trade Commission, consumers have lost nearly $12M to COVID-19 scammers. Next Caller’s recent study found that approximately 32% of 1,000 of those surveyed believe they had already been targeted by COVID-19 scams/fraud and that 44% have noticed an increase in calls, texts and emails from unknown sources.

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Get out of harms way by being as ready, alert and proactive as scammers are. Check out the advice below:

  1. The FBI warns against anyone, including those masquerading to be a government agency, asking you for personal information in order to receive your $1,200 coronavirus relief check. DO NOT GIVE OUT PERSONAL INFORMATION.
  2. The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recommends that you turn off your email option that automatically downloads attachments.
    1. Look for suspicious sender’s address that imitates a legitimate business/individual when one or two or three characters have been altered/omitted
    2. Forget generic greetings and signatures and lack of contact information
    3. Look for bad spelling/grammar and inconsistent formatting.
    4. Pay attention to any false sense of urgency/importance
    5. Look for spoofed hyperlinks and websites
  3. Be wary of mobile malware
    1. Stay AWAY from CovidLock, Cerberus, etc.
    2. Stay AWAY from ANY coronavirus-related website name registrations – they 50% more likely to be scams that enable phones to be locked and held for ransom, let someone take command your device remotely, inject malware into your browser
  4. Review the US Federal Trade Commissions Charity Scams page BEFORE you donate to a charity. Or check out charity search sites such as guidestar.org and give.org BEFORE donating.
  5. Make sure COVID-19 Facebook groups are legitimate
    1. Click “about” section of Facebook If group has changed its name multiple times, stay away.
    2. Avoid political operatives on
    3. Make sure any site claiming to be official government organization or publication is official by checking that URL ends in .gov
  6. On iPhone, block messages in Messages app, tap the profile photo at the top and then tap on the Info button. On next screen, tap on phone number followed by Block this Caller at bottom of next screen and that number will be blocked from both messaging and calling you.
  7. Do research BEFORE pressing STOP to unsolicited message. Once you verify that number is valid, then reply with STOP.
  8. Do NOT press links in unsolicited messages
  9. FTC and FDA warn of companies selling unapproved products falsely claiming to treat/prevent coronavirus.   Companies included are Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy, N-ergetics, GuruNanda, Vivify holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy and The Jim Bakker Show

 

Thanks to CNBC.

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