Beware of COVID-Related Scams

Unfortunately, criminals are taking advantage of unsuspecting and vulnerable consumers during this pandemic. The FBI reports seeing a rise in fraud schemes related to the coronavirus by scammers who are leveraging the pandemic to steal money and personal information.

It’s important to be aware of possible scams and to protect yourself and your loved ones from possible fraudulent offers. The FBI advises consumers to be on the lookout for the following scams.

Emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus. 

Do not click links or open attachments you do not recognize. Fraudsters can use links in emails to deliver malware to your computer to steal personal information or to lock your computer and demand payment. Be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received.

 Phishing Emails 

Phishing emails may ask you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government; however, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money. Phishing emails may also claim to be related to:

  • Charitable contributions
  • General financial relief
  • Airline carrier refunds
  • Fake cures and vaccines
  • Fake testing kits

Counterfeit Treatments or Equipment 

Be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19, and be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves. More information on unapproved or counterfeit PPE can be found at www.cdc.gov/niosh.

For accurate, up-to-date information on COVID-19, the CDC has posted extensive guidance and information that is updated frequently. The best sources for authoritative information on COVID-19 are www.cdc.gov and www.coronavirus.gov. You may also consult your primary care physician for guidance.

Everyday Cyber-Security Reminders

Protect yourself and help stop criminal activity by always following these tips:

  • Do not open attachments or click links within emails from senders you don’t recognize.
  • Do not provide your username, password, date of birth, social security number, financial data, or other personal information in response to an email or robocall.
  • Always verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type them into your browser.
  • Check for misspellings or wrong domains within a link (For example, a website address that should end in a “.gov” that ends in “.com” instead).

If you believe you are the victim of an Internet scam or cybercrime, or if you want to report suspicious activity, please visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

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