The federal government put out an urgent warning that scam artists are preying on our fears about the coronavirus. Robocalls are running rampant, with one of the most widespread scams claiming the government is supplying test kits. In the call they say:
“Response Act has made coronavirus testing more accessible immediately. if you want to receive a free testing kit delivered overnight to your home, press 1. if you do not want your free testing, press 2.” Please beware that there are no test kits. Bad guys are after your personal data.
Another call is targeting folks with diabetes. In the call they say:
“If you are diabetic and using insulin, we can qualify you to get a free diabetic monitor and a complimentary testing kit for coronavirus. To learn more, please press 1, otherwise please press 2.”
Finally, one call claims that cleaning your air ducts will protect you from the pandemic. In the call they say:
“Protect your loved ones from the coronavirus. Our highly trained technicians will do a full air duct cleaning and sanitation to make sure that the air you breathe is free of bacteria. So don’t hesitate, press 0 and have your duct system cleaned and sanitized now. Press 9 to be removed from this list.” Air duct cleaning isn’t going to stop the virus.
Some scammers are claiming that your gas, electric, water or communications services are about to be shut off. DO NOT send money or give bank or credit card information to anyone claiming to be a utility provider. The fact is that utility providers are being directed to keep services on despite missed payments.
Scammers are also creating fake shops, websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies through these channels, fraudsters pocket the money and never provide the promised supplies.
Some Scammers are contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment. They are also soliciting donations for individuals, groups, and areas affected by COVID-19. There are many more scams out there offering everything from health insurance to a COVID-19 cure.
Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information. There are also Scammers creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.
Investment scams are offering online promotions on various platforms, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information.
Cybercriminals will continue to exploit the coronavirus pandemic, so always be skeptical of those promising cures or miracles. You can learn more about these scams via the Federal Trade Commission website https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/ or you may call 202-326-2222