AVOID CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) SCAMS
It’s important to be aware of fraudsters and scammers taking advantage of individuals during the coronavirus outbreak. Below are some tips to protect your personal information and finances.
- If you are sent any check for deposit, make sure it’s real. Never deposit a check from someone you don’t know. Learn how to spot fake check scams from the FTC at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-spot-avoid-and-report-fake-check-scams.
- Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone. This includes your financial institution’s username and/or password.
- Be cautious when reviewing emails, especially those related to COVID-19. Do not click links or open attachments in an email unless you are expecting the email and/or you are certain as to the validity of the email and the sender. The best way to get information about COVID-19 is to visit the Centers for Disease Control website (cdc.gov), or the federal government’s coronavirus website (www.coronavirus.gov).
- Keep all your computer programs updated, especially the computer’s anti-virus/anti-malware software and operating system (i.e. Windows, Mac OSX, etc.).
- Beware of advertisements for COVID-19 cures, treatments or vaccines. If a random Internet site has a treatment or cure that isn’t already widely known and in use to help current patients, it’s probably too good to be true. Always contact and ask a healthcare professional.
- Before giving to a charity online, research ahead of time to validate the organization is legitimate. Never pay with a gift card or wire transfer. The FTC recommends these organizations as trusted resources for those seeking charities:
- Avoid consuming and sharing misinformation. Always consult reputable sources for updates about COVID-19, such as the Centers for Disease Control (cdc.gov) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (www.azdhs.gov). Only share information on social media, or other channels, from reputable sources.
- Beware of get-rich-quick schemes or questionable investment opportunities related to COVID-19. Scammers are capitalizing on the desperate search for work by those who may have lost their jobs and are unemployed.
- Beware of in-person or online “clinics” selling COVID-19 testing services. Contact your healthcare provider if you suspect you have the illness. If your symptoms are critical, go to the closest emergency room or dial 911.
- Be aware of individuals or websites claiming to be sell products or protective equipment that protect against or treat COVID-19. Information about approved products is available at cdc.gov/niosh, or from the Food and Drug Administration at www.fda.gov and the Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov. Suspected counterfeit products can be reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at www.iprcenter.gov.
- Employ unique, strong passwords for every critical online account, such as those for banking, financial investments and healthcare. Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords in a secure manner.
- Practice smart online shopping. Never use a debit card for online transactions as scammers may be able to empty your bank account before you have a chance to dispute the charges. Only shop with reputable businesses employing the proper security on their website (beginning with “https”). Browse directly on the online shopping site instead of clicking links that may have been manipulated to send you to a potentially fraudulent site.
- Since more children (and parents) are now at home, make sure your electronic devices have parental controls active. Be aware of who your children may be chatting with online.
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If you feel you are the victim of a scam or an attempted scam, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission. You may also report possible fraudulent or suspicious online activity through the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.