You probably are as tired as I am of each newscast opening with a statement of doom and gloom facing the world. They’re fixated on statistics, trying to one-up the other to see how soon we’ll all be erased from the earth.
Things to remember when watching television and online media reports.
- Don’t use any one source as a sole source.
- News networks have agendas.
- Bad news sells, good news doesn’t.
So, relax and know that despite that canned look of concern on the anchor’s pancake-makeup-laden face, we will recover from this and go on to live, in my case, semi-productive lives.
Still, in a time where it seems all focus is on the virus and the problem it brings, a product of COVID-19 is the attempt to get rich by way of the criminal act of depriving people of their money by way of fraudulent solicitation based on fear mongering.
Recently, I took a look at some of the fraudulent activity surfacing directly related to the virus. Initially, these were some of the top scams that were uncovered. However, it is normal for certain scams to fade away and others take their place, depending on the success of the fraudulent activity. I would still watch out for these.
- Men in Coats — One or more men show up in lab coats and fake CDC credentials. Some are looking for personal information and others, looking to see what is in your home, casing it for a later break in. If this scenario occurs in your neighborhood, call 911 and let the cops check it out. CDC will confirm any activity that is legitimate.
- Fake Red Cross members going door-to-door. Do your homework ahead of time and check those websites to see if this is consistent with their policies. Chances are it’s not.
- Random Solicitation — This is intended to allow the victim to see the new vaccine — for a price. You can bet a fake vaccine will be thrown out there soon.
- Sales scams — Although catching up by increased production, there is still a demand for surgical masks and sanitizers, all of which can be ordered online.
- Stock Scams — Beware of stock investments in companies that offer products that can prevent, detect or cure coronavirus. These are pressure sales, urging the victims to buy now before the prices soar.
- Phishing Schemes — Be careful when searching online for information on “covid” or “coronavirus.” The cybersecurity firm Check Point says more than half are likely to be malicious.
Here’s your cheat sheet.
- Be wary of anyone asking for money for coronavirus victims, or disease research, especially if they want prepaid credit cards or gift cards.
- Ignore phone calls or emails from strangers urging you to invest in the newest hot coronavirus stocks.
- Don’t click on links or download files from unexpected emails, even if the email address looks like a company or person you recognize. The same goes for unfamiliar websites.
- Avoid online offers for coronavirus-related vaccines or cures. They simply are not legitimate.
Coronavirus scams depend on the same things as they try to deprive you of your money: collecting money up front money and gathering your personal information. “Red flares” that can signal scams and should raise questions are requests for personal information and/or purchases requiring pre-paid gift cards.
It was only a few short weeks ago that we thought we’d never see a roll of toilet paper again, but the fact is, we’re catching up.
So, take care of yourselves, especially your elders, in a time where isolation is needed for recovery. If you’re going shopping, go early.
Go over simple rules with your family members as a way to protect against fraud. Verify everything. Don’t agree to accept anything you didn’t request, especially unsolicited offers, without consulting another family member.
And use the internet to get the facts from legitimate websites, starting with the CDC (www.cdc.gov).