COVID-19-related scams are a growing problem.
Just when you think the low-lifes among us can not get any lower, along comes a new opportunity for them to exploit the most vulnerable among us.
Scammers are always looking for opportunities to prey on victims.
Playing on fear is a common strategy.
Scammers have been known to set up fake virtual kidnappings or lie about Social Security being compromised.
According to a recent The Cecil Whig article titled “Maryland U.S. attorney warns of COVID-19 scams; Cecil County remains vigilant,” COVID-19-related scams are the latest strategies.
What are COVID-19-related scams?
The first scam involves an email from local hospitals offering free vaccines.
COVID-19 does not have a vaccine at this time.
The initial website may look legitimate, but the secondary websites often host malware.
This malware infects computers and look for personal information so the perpetrators can commit fraud using your identity.
Unfortunately, seniors tend to be the easiest marks for these scammers.
What should you do if you believe you have been targeted by a COVID-19-related scam?
Contact the police immediately.
The government is aware of these scams and is prepared to investigate.
Next, educate yourself.
Check official government websites like CDC.gov for reliable information about the virus.
The Federal Trade Commission also provides helpful information regarding COVID-19-related scams on its website.
Reports of on scams can be submitted using the FTC complaint form.
If you are a senior and fear you have been victimize by scammers, you have the option to call the Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).
Although the vaccine scam is quite prevalent, other COVID-19-related scams exist.
What are they?
Scammers may pose as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization to send phishing emails.
Perpetrators may seek out donations for non-existent or illegitimate charitable organizations.
Other people may pose as physicians and request patient information for COVID-19 testing.
For COVID-19-related scams, you can report them to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or by sending an email to disaster @leo.gov.
Take steps you protect yourself from both scams and the virus.
Reference: Cecil Whig (March 23, 2020) “Maryland U.S. attorney warns of COVID-19 scams; Cecil County remains vigilant”