How to avoid coronavirus fraud?

syringe - how to prevent coronavirus scams

Amid all the issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, there is also the problem of fraudsters trying to profit from people’s fear. New fraud attempts appear all over the internet. Fake offers promote now, e.g., vaccine kits for the coronavirus, immune boosters, and special treatments for COVID-19.

The scammers do what is possible to seem legitimate—using pictures of respected and recognized people related to health organizations and authority. The point is that there is no coronavirus vaccine, much less a kit available online that could be approved. The impostors’ goal is to collect money from unaware individuals, and when possible, to obtain credit card information that facilitates identity theft.

The best protection may well be taking defensive measures. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) issued the following list of recommendations:

  • • Independently verify the identity of any company, charity, or individual contacting you.
  • • Check websites and email addresses of those offering information, • products, or services. Scammers often use addresses that look similar to legitimate entities, for example, using “cdc.com” instead of “cdc.gov.”
  • • Be wary of unsolicited emails offering information, supplies, or treatment, or requesting personal information for medical purposes. Legitimate health authorities will not contact the general public this way.
  • • Don’t click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources to prevent downloading an (electronic) virus.
  • • Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is operating and up to date.
  • • Ignore offers for vaccines, cure, or treatment as health authorities won’t be selling these.
  • • Check online reviews of any company offering coronavirus-related products or supplies and avoid those with complaints from customers about not receiving items.
  • • Research any charities or crowdfunding sites soliciting donations.
  • • Be wary of any business, charity, or individual requesting payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail. Don’t send money through any of these channels.
  • • Be cautious of investment opportunities, especially those based on claims that a small company’s products or services can help stop the virus.

- 24 March 2020 - EN