• August 7, 2020

BBB: Top COVID-19 scams - Odessa American: BBB Column

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BBB: Top COVID-19 scams

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Posted: Sunday, May 3, 2020 5:00 am

It is well known that scammers take advantage of consumers in dire situations. Natural disasters and other catastrophes attract scammers, and COVID-19 is no different. Many scams we are already familiar with are taking a coronavirus twist. The best way to prevent falling victim to these scams is educating yourself on them, so you can recognize the signs and know to walk away.

These are the biggest COVID-19 scams being reported to Better Business Bureau:

Counterfeit cures and preventions. Many consumers are receiving emails or online ads promoting “secret cures” and “foolproof preventions.” These cures and preventions often include products like face masks, test kits and more. Victims of this scam pay a high price to purchase the advertised products, which either never arrive or are not the quality item that was promised. Check product reviews and business profiles at BBB.org before making purchases online. And remember, while medical experts are working to create a vaccine, none currently exists.

Stimulus check scams. As soon as economic impact payments were approved under the CARES Act, scammers were quick to target hopeful consumers. Scammers claim that, for a price, you can check your eligibility status or receive your check early. As the final payments are made, and even after, scammers will continue to use this tactic to steal money. Visit IRS.gov/coronavirus to learn more about stimulus checks and the CARES Act.

Tech support scams. With employees working from home, scammers are looking to exploit the technical difficulties that come with home offices. They may send pop ups that, when clicked, download malware onto your computer. Others may call or email, claiming to be from a well-known tech company claiming to need your information to perform remote maintenance on your devices. Don’t allow remote support unless you’ve requested assistance and avoid clicking on pop ups.

Government impostor scams. Other scammers are posing as government officials from various agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control, Small Business Administration and Social Security Administration. Claiming to be a reliable source, the scammer calls or emails their target, asking for money or personal information. Remember, government agencies will contact you by letter before calling or emailing you.

Employment scams. With many businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, many consumers have lost their jobs. Scammers take advantage of job hunters by posting fake job openings that promise flexible work-from-home hours and great pay. They offer you the job immediately, sometimes without an interview. Once hired, you are asked to share personal information or pay for training, software, etc. Watch out for unusual procedures when looking for a job, such as an offer without an interview or paying for training in order to be hired.

Shortage scams. Also known as price gouging, scammers stockpile high demand items – like toilet paper, sanitation products and face masks – and sell them at inflated prices. Price gouging is illegal, and consumers may end up receiving used, defective or counterfeit products. If you encounter price gouging, report it to BBB.org/scamtracker or the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov.

To learn more about, and stay safe from, COVID-19 scams, visit us at BBB.org.

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