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How to Avoid Coronavirus Financial Scams

March 09, 2020

As if staying healthy in the time of COVID-19 wasn’t enough to worry about, scammers are now taking advantage of the situation surrounding the coronavirus. Emails, websites, and social media posts may be promoting awareness, prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They may also be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments.

So besides washing your hands, not touching your face, and staying home if you’re sick—here are some tips to avoid the spread of coronavirus scams.

How to keep your finances and personal information safe:

  • 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 they 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.

So there you have it: the key to avoiding coronavirus scams is similar to dodging other online cons. Be smart, be cautious, and do your homework. And, of course… wash your hands!