Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – a government agency of the United States that protects and educates consumers – is warning the public in a blog post on the FTC website about scams that seek to take advantage of fears surrounding the worldwide outbreak of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus. They’re setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information,” FTC Consumer Education Specialist Colleen Tressler wrote in the blog post.

“The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood,” continued Tressler. “They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments.” She offered consumers the following tips:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

Consumers who want more information about the latest scams the FTC is examining may sign up for the FTC’s consumer alerts. If you come across any suspicious claims, report them to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The FTC’s consumer information website is at www.consumer.ftc.gov. The FTC website is at www.ftc.gov.

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