Federal Trade Commission provides tips to avoid COVID-19 scams

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/07/2020 01:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The ongoing COVID-19 threat has caused scammers to take advantage of the public’s fear of the virus by distributing false information and rumors. The Federal Trade Commission if offering tips to fight back.

“We will not tolerate businesses seeking to take advantage of consumers’ concerns and fears regarding coronavirus disease, exigent circumstances, or financial distress,” FTC Chairman Joe Simmons said in a press release.

The FTC is offering the following information on how to spot, avoid and report coronavirus scams, found at www.ftc.gov/coronavirus:

• Treatment and cures: Ignore online offers for vaccinations, home test kits and ads touting prevention, treatment or claims of a cure for the virus. Medical breakthroughs are not going to be reported through ads or a sales pitch. As of April 3, there were no FDA-authorized home test kits for the virus.

• Email and text scams: Do not click on links from unknown sources as it could download a virus onto computers or personal devices. Ensure that anti-malware and anti-virus software are up-to-date.

• Robocalls: Immediately hang up on illegal robocallers and do not press any numbers. Being prompted to press a number for more options to speak to a live operator or be removed from the call list could lead to more future robocalls.

• Government relief checks: The government will not ask anyone to pay any money up front to receive funds; the government will not ask for a Social Security number, bank account information or a credit card number. Scammers will seek this type of information.

• Fake charities: Research information when it comes to donating to charities, as found on www.ftc.gov/charity. Scammers will want cash donations, gift cards or wired money.

• Misinformation and rumors: Before passing on any messages or information, fact check with trusted sources. Visit www.usa.gov.coronovirus for links to federal, state and local government agencies.

Stay informed by doing the following:

• Visit www.ftc.gov/coronavirus, www.coronavirus.gov, or www.usa.gov.coronavirus for information;

• Report suspicious claims or questionable practices to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint;

• Keep up with the latest scams by signing up for the FTC’s Consumer Alerts at www.ftc.gov/subscribe.

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