COVID-19 Related Scams Emerge as Virus Spreads
In trying times, some individuals will attempt to take advantage of the unsuspecting. The coronavirus pandemic is no exception. If you receive an unsolicited text message, phone call or any other communication claiming a cash payment, governments benefit or other COVID-19 assistance, be suspicious. Safeguarding your personal and financial data should always be of paramount importance. In the present emergency, you should be extra vigilant. The following are just some of the scams and imposters that have been recently identified and remedies available to you as a consumer if you are targeted by these individuals.
Imposters in Lab Coats
Several South Florida law enforcement agencies are reporting people dressed in white lab coats and masks impersonating Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workers. The imposters are reportedly knocking on doors and offering free COVID-19 tests. The CDC is not sending people door-to-door to test for COVID-19. If a CDC impersonator shows up at your door, do not let them in. Close the door and call 911.
Telephone Calls offering free COVID-19 Test Kits
The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has issued an alert regarding fraudsters contacting senior Americans and offering to provide free COVID-19 test kits. In exchange for the free kit, the scammers claim all they need is the target’s Medicare number. Be mindful and never provide health information, or any other personal information, in response to an unsolicited phone call.
Dangerous Websites Mimicking Legitimate COVID-19 Informational Sources
It has been recently reported that a malicious website displaying a fabricated live map of COVID-19 cases is being spread across the internet via infected email attachments and online advertisements. The website is designed to simulate a legitimate webpage published by Johns Hopkins University. Once users click on the website, a program is activated that can access and steal sensitive user data. If malware is suspected, do not shop online, access online banking or do other activities that involves the use of sensitive information like usernames, passwords, or account information until the issue has been resolved either by seeking technical support or using a security software from a trusted provider.
Fake Emails from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or World Health Organization
Scammers are also sending phishing emails that appear to come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or World Health Organization asking for sensitive information or instructing people to click on suspicious links and open malicious attachments. Be alert and verify the email sender by checking the email address or contacting the CDC or WHO directly.
Price Gouging Hotline
Florida Attorney General Moody has recently activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline in response to the COVID-19 state of emergency. If you witness businesses seeking inordinately high prices for consumer goods, you can report that retailer by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com. Price gouging can also be reported to the Attorney General’s Office by downloading the free NO SCAM app in the Android or Apple app store. For a list of the commodities covered under the state’s price gouging laws during the COVID-19 state of emergency, click here.
These are just a few of the latest scams emerging as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread. Floridians should be reminded that if an offer seems too good to be true, then it is probably a scam. If you are ever suspicious of an offer or a deal which seems too good to be truth, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help.