Stay informed to better avoid these types of scams
With the world in a state of flux due to the ever-shifting nature of the coronavirus, we must be more diligent than ever about scams. Scams targeting the elderly have been around for ages, but now scammers are utilizing fear about the virus to develop more sophisticated scams. Be on the lookout for some common COVID-19 scams, so you don't fall victim.
Fake health organizations scam
As of now, there is no cure or vaccine for the coronavirus. The FDA recently approved one at-home test kit, but is not yet widely available and must be ordered by a doctor. Avoid both people and websites offering cures, prevention, or tests as these are scams. To keep updated on developments regarding vaccinations and preventions of the virus, check the CDC website, which is being updated as new information arises. Right now, the best thing to do is to limit exposure to the virus by practicing social-distancing and good hygiene. Though we are all anxious for a cure, do not fall prey to snake oil schemes and false claims.
Requests for donations for non-existent nonprofits scam
Many great nonprofit organizations are doing what they can to help with COVID-19 relief. Unfortunately, with any disaster, there will also be people falsely claiming to be a part of an organization as a ploy to take your money. If you can donate, by all means, you should, but do your research and make sure the organization you are giving to is legitimate. Be wary of phone calls from organizations that you've never donated to before, as these may be scams. Charity Navigator is an excellent database for checking the validity of an organization. To receive a tax deduction checking the IRS website is also useful for determining a charity's exemption status. Don't be afraid of giving, but make sure that you trust the organization you are donating to, if something seems fishy, it probably is.
Websites selling fraudulent products scam
Shortages of masks and other necessary supplies have caused panic among consumers, but be cautious of purchasing items from unknown sources. Research before ordering from an unfamiliar website as some consumers have reported ordering items that never come. Also, be careful of statements made about products online. Homemade masks and hand sanitizers are not medical grade and cannot claim to be so. Websites like Etsy, a marketplace for handmade goods, warns that sellers should not be making medical or health claims about their products.
Falsely posing as government organizations scam
Scammers may use many means of communication for targeting their victims from email and letters to phone calls and text messages. Be wary of contact from any source you don't recognize. Always visit the government's website directly rather than clicking on links to keep updated on the latest information. Be extremely wary of communication asking for personal information such as your social security number or bank information. Never click on a link you don't recognize. To learn more about recognizing phishing scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission's website on the topic.
Financial offers scam
The world economy has taken a hit since the coronavirus outbreak, and with that comes fear over personal finances. Watch out for fraudulent financial scams that claim to offer stimulus relief or other forms of financial assistance. These scams may claim to provide aid in exchange for personal information or an advance fee, some also ask you to purchase gift cards in exchange for money, all these types of scams should be ignored. The IRS website will have the most accurate information regarding economic impact payments. Do not fall for scams claiming to offer you money.
The Federal Communications Commission has a page with other common scams to watch out for and tips for avoiding them. To read more and to learn what to do if you think you've fallen victim to one of these scams, visit their website. Now is a time for diligence in protecting your personal information. When possible set up two-factor verification for passwords and make sure your online information is secure. Being aware of common scams is the best way to ensure you don't fall victim.
For more information on scams targeting the elderly during COVID-19, visit Avoid coronavirus scams: What you need to know