(WZAW) -- While the coronavirus is worsening as it spreads across the globe, it’s bad news for most us, but it’s great news for scammers who are cashing in on our anxiety about the disease.
There are several things you can look out for when it comes to coronavirus cons.
One is a phishing scam that involves a fake cure for the virus. In an email or on a website, the scammer will provide a lot of information about a product claiming to be a cure for the coronavirus and even include convincing testimonials. For example, one scam email claims that the government has discovered a vaccine but is keeping it secret for “security reasons.” But don’t fall for it and get your credit card out. Currently there are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent coronavirus infection.
Susan Bach, northeast Wisconsin regional director for the BBB, said the agency is already hearing about scammers claiming to be from the federal government and asking people for personal information, such as your social security number and bank account information, to be able to send them their coronavirus stimulus check. This is the latest one. The Federal Trade Commission clarified that the government will not do that, nor will they ask for processing or other types of fees.
The BBB is also warning of scams involving the sale of face masks, which is likely just a fake website by scammers outside the U.S. The agency said several complaints are pending.
Another scam is phishing emails purporting to be with the WHO or CDC, that can also come in the form of phone calls. Scammers will pretend to be with those health agencies in an attempt to get personal information.
The BBB also anticipates scams cropping up regarding donating to charities or Go Fund Me pages. Consumers are urged to verify they are legitimate.
Lastly, there is a warning about price gouging and the BBB is asking that consumers report it by either filing a complaint, for companies with a business address, or on the BBB Scam Tracker, for things like fake online websites.
Spot a fraudulent health product by watching out for these red flags:
- Don’t panic. Do your research: Be skeptical of alarmist and conspiracy theory claims and don’t rush into buying anything that seems too good – or crazy – to be true. Always double check information you see online with official news sources.
- Be wary of personal testimonials and “miracle” product claims. Be suspicious of products that claim to immediately cure a wide range of diseases. No one product could be effective against a long, varied list of conditions or diseases. Also, testimonials are easy to make up and are not a substitute for scientific evidence.
- It's "all natural." Just because it's natural does not mean it's good for you. All natural does not mean the same thing as safe.
Check with your doctor. If you're tempted to buy an unproven product or one with questionable claims, check with your doctor or other health care professional first.
The BBB has set up a page regarding coronavirus and will be adding press releases, information and tips as they become available: https://www.bbb.org/council/coronavirus/
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002.
Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.