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Beware: Coronavirus Scams are on the Rise


The recent news and events surrounding the Coronavirus have offered many challenges to our daily lives, one of which is the potential for scammers to take advantage of people’s emotions during these times.  Cybercriminals may use email, fraudulent websites, or social media to exploit people searching for products, information, or simply looking to donate to others in need.  By understanding how these scams work you can take steps to prevent being a victim.

Email Scams:

There are several ways criminals seek to target individuals using email, one of which is Phishing.  During a phishing scam, the sender will usually impersonate an organization, such as the CDC, saying they have valuable information.  Instead, they are trying to get your personal data.  They might ask you to click a link or download an attachment, which could transfer an infected file to your computer.  As a best practice, only open links and attachments from trusted senders.

This can also work with scammers preying on peoples’ charitable side.  You might get a request to donate to people affected by the Coronavirus, but the requester may not be legitimate.  This shouldn’t discourage you from contributing to a cause, but be sure to do your research into the charity or organization, and never feel pressured to make an immediate decision.  Also, be aware of requests for gift cards or wire transfers as that’s a tip off that its most likely not legitimate.

Shopping Scams:

With many virus-related health products going out of stock in local retail stores, customers are shopping online for hard to find items.  Scammers have taken advantage of this by advertising these products and accepting payment, but never sending anything.  Always do your research into a company before providing your payment information online.  Looking at customer reviews, or even searching the name of the company might come up with more insight into its legitimacy.

Also, be aware of cures or vaccines for the virus being advertised.  The FTC warns that there are no current cures or vaccines available for purchase, so don’t fall for ads stating they have one.

These are just a few ways scammers can operate, but by being careful and conducting proper research you can take solid steps to protecting yourself.

For more information on online scams, check out Bank of Southern California’s safety and security page.