As the world battles to suppress the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone is scrambling for information about the disease and how it spreads; how they can protect themselves and more.
Sadly, there are scammers taking advantage of people who are vulnerable. Here are a few guidelines you can follow to avoid getting defrauded.
There is No Cure for the COVID-19 Coronavirus
Several of the scammers are from companies and persons selling products proclaiming that it is a cure or that it prevents the virus from spreading. Scammers are illegally selling fake treatments made of everything from colloidal silver to cow dung. At present there is no cure for the Coronavirus and a vaccine is in development. Do not be deceived by false products and advertising.
Many Americans have a lot of responsibilities right now such as: childcare, social distancing, probably missed paychecks and more and the last thing they want to dwell on is someone trying to take advantage of them. During this struggle it is important to remain vigilant from bad actors trying to take advantage of these circumstances.
U.S. Government Agencies in Action
Recently the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings to seven different companies including companies like Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., and The Jim Bakker Show who were promoting products with scientifically unsupported claims they can cure or prevent the COVID19. Should in case these companies continue with the fake commercialization of products the FTC will file a lawsuit against them and issue a demand for customer refunds.
FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. stated, “The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health.” “We have an aggressive surveillance program that routinely monitors online sources for health fraud products, especially during a significant public health issue as this one.”
The SEC has also provided guidelines when it comes to making requests for investments in products from publicly traded companies that state they can help prevent or cure the virus. Particularly there are micro-cap stock or penny stock companies, who declare that consumers should be cautious of companies making uncorroborated claims that may be involved with fraudulent pump-and-dump projects.
Be Vigilant for Scam Phone Calls, Emails or Texts
Scammers have gotten very advanced in the use of technology and are using phishing schemes by sending emails or text messages to deceive people and have them hand over their personal information. Frauders also use official images or email addresses that look the same as used by official businesses and may use the names and phone numbers of the person they are calling to convince their listeners they are genuine.
To detect COVID-19 email and text scams, look for specific greetings like (Hello, Sir/Madame), requests for verification of personal information or email relevant to updating your billing details; avoid these types of messages. If a message seems to be pressuring you for personal information it could be a hoax. Sometimes you may even receive a suspicious email from a particular person, company, employer or even a close friend; contact them individually to confirm if the message was from them before responding.
Director of Consumer Advocacy Group Consumer Action, Linda Sherry stated,“I’d tell people to assume every unsolicited effort to reach you or sell you something should be viewed with extreme skepticism.” The Consumer Action Advocacy Group provides a monthly email newsletter describing the popular new scams to look out for. In another statement, Sherry says, “People should vet the offer by hanging up the phone, deleting the emails and then reaching out to the entity independently if indeed it is a firm you do business with.” Of course, even a no response is the best way to respond to scammers.
Protect Yourself Online from Identity Theft
The FTC advises online users to practice proper online security, such as: two-factor authentication and backing up personal data so as to make it difficult for hackers to infiltrate or gain unauthorized access to online accounts, even if they are able find out your username, password and or personal identity information. Anyone can visit the FTCs Identity Theft Website to protect your identity from further creating any harm and to also alert businesses that your identity is in jeopardy.
If you have been the victim of a scam, speak with an attorney immediately. Contact The Gambacorta Law Office at 847-433-9303 to discuss your situation and our team will gladly assist you.