Sadly, at a time when humanity’s needs are so great there are nefarious individuals who will use a crisis to commit fraud against the most vulnerable, those in desperate need. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning to the public that there has been a huge surge of Coronavirus related complaints from consumers since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Since the beginning of January 2020, the FTC has received more than 7,800 Coronavirus related complaints, more than double what they were since just a week ago. The complaints range in topics from travel and vacation refund scams, online Coronavirus related online shopping, mobile and texting scams to government and small business assistance imposter scams. In the fraud complaints filed with the FTC, consumers reported losing more than $4.77 million dollars, with the median average complaint reporting a loss of $598.00.
The FTC regularly updates its web page site with the latest figures and types of scams being reported. If you have been a victim of a Coronavirus related scam you can go to the FTC to file a complaint at https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/ftc-in-action. Additionally, the FTC encourages anyone who has encountered any type of fraud, including Coronavirus scams to report it immediately at FTC.gov/complaint.
Here are some of the COVID19 (CoronaVirus) scams you should beware of and how to avoid them:
- Hang up on all automated (robo) calls; don’t press any numbers (even when it says to press a number to be removed from their list) and don’t verbally respond to anything, just hang up.
- Don’t open messages or click on links for online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Fraudsters are trying to sell unauthorized, unproven products and kits to test, treat, or prevent the Coronavirus (COVID-19) both online and in stores. There are NO FDA authorized home test kits for COVID-19 at the present time. We at UrgentCare.com will be reporting on the latest breakthroughs in testing and treatments, but you can also go to the FDA at https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/emergency-situations-medical-devices/faqs-diagnostic-testing-sars-cov.
- Fact check information period! Scammers rely on well meaning people including our friends and relatives to pass on information that isn’t accurate, verified, or even by frightening people (conspiracy theories) into buying Coronavirus related products. Before you purchase anything COVID related or pass on any information contact a trusted source for information. Go to: What the U.S. Government is Doing at https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus.
- When trying to buy goods that are in high demand due to the Coronavirus such as: bleach, toilet paper, antibacterial cleaning supplies, health and medical supplies (PPEs) KNOW the supplier. There are many online scammers claiming to have stock of these high demand products when in fact they don’t. They may promise delivery just to get your order, knowing they may never be able to ship you the products. For tips on buying online products go to the FTC’s: Shopping Online at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0020-shopping-online.
- Do NOT respond to texts and emails about checks from the Federal Government. The details of the checks are still being finalized. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money is a scammer.
- Do NOT click on links in emails or private messages from sources you don’t know or recognize. They may contain malware that can download viruses onto your mobile phone or computer devices.
- Beware of emails or messages on your phone claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or the World Health Organization (WHO) or any “expert” claiming to have information about the Coronavirus. Go to UrgentCare.com for information or directly to the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
- When donating to charities to help with the Coronavirus crisis be sure to do your homework on the charity, whether it is through a charity or a crowdfunding site make sure your donation is actually going to your intended recipient. If someone is pressuring you to make a cash donation, by gift card, or by wiring them money DON’T do it, it is most likely a scam.
- 7 companies have been sent warning letters for selling various unproven products that they claim can prevent or treat the Coronavirus that include teas, essential oils, colloidal silver. The 7 companies the FTC agencies sent the letters to are: 1) Vital Silver, 2) Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., 3) N-ergetics, 4) GuruNanda, LLC, 5) Vivify Holistic Clinic, 6) Herbal Amy LLC, and 7) The Jim Bakker Show. The FTC says that these companies could provide no evidence to back up their claims which is required by law. According to the FDA, at the present time there are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products currently available to the public to treat or prevent the virus.
This is a list of Coronavirus Scam Topics listed on the FTC web page:
(provided directly from the FTC)
- Grandparent scams in the age of Coronavirus
- Small businesses: Where to go for financial relief information
- While you’re at home, spot the scams
- Want to get your Coronavirus relief check? Scammers do too.
- 60 and over in the time of COVID-19? Read on
- Socially distancing from COVID-19 robocall scams
- Thinking critically about Coronavirus news and information
- Seven Coronavirus scams targeting your business
- Now more than ever, spot the scams with #FTCScamBingo
- FTC: Coronavirus scams, Part 2
- Online security tips for working from home
- Checks from the government
- FTC & FDA: Warnings sent to sellers of scam Coronavirus treatments
- Coronavirus: Scammers follow the headlines
- FTC, FDA warn companies making Coronavirus claims
Scammy Calls About the Coronavirus
- Fake tests for Medicare recipients
- Free test kit scam
- Sanitation supplies
- Health insurance pitches
- Mortgage scam
- Social Security Administration scam
- Small business listing scam
Recordings courtesy of Nomorobo
To read about any or all of the topics above go to the FTC Consumer Information page at:https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing?utm_source=coronavirus.