Coronavirus Scams Are Increasing Says NC Attorney General
CHARLOTTE, NC. — Exploiting people’s fears, it’s what scammers live for says President of the Better Business Bureau Tom Bartholomy.
“Especially with it being global and with the panic in the frenzy that has set in. It’s the perfect atmosphere for a scammer to come in and just take advantage of folks, and they are,” says Bartholomy.
Bartholomy says coronavirus scams are happening 10x’s more than scams during hurricanes or natural disasters.
Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency in North Carolina last week. Triggering the Price Gauging Law. Attorney General Josh Stein says they have received 136 price gouging complaints. Half have to do with groceries. Others include hand sanitizer and clean.
“We are in the process of investigating those complaints. We have not yet concluded that any of them violate the law. If we do so conclude we will act quickly and aggressively to enforce the law,” says Attorney General Stein.
Here’s what to look for:
– people trying to sell coronavirus miracle cures.
– robocallers are ramping up efforts to steal your money by pretending to be insurance companies or health experts.
– charity scams: make sure donations are to real charities.
– lookout for phishing attempts.
“That’s what phishing is all about. Making you click something that will create a problem and open up your personal information to criminals,” says Stein.
If you want to report a robocall scam call: 844-8NO-ROBO
If you want to report any other scam call: 877-5NO-SCAM
The U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray also issued a warning about the heightened possibility of scams due to the heightened concern over the virus.
“I encourage everyone to be on heightened alert about potential scams related to COVID-19,” U.S. Attorney Murray said. “At the request of the United States Attorney General, I have directed federal prosecutors in my office to prioritize the detection, investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct related to COVID-19. We will not allow scammers to profit from this outbreak.”
Possible types of COVID-19 scams are:
- Individuals or businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19.
- Online offers for vaccinations and test kits.
- Phishing emails or texts from entities posing as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Malware inserted in mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 that can steal information stored on devices.
- Malicious COVID-19 websites and apps that can gain and lock access to devices until a ransom payment is made.
- Solicitations for donations to fake charities or crowdfunding sites.
Here are some tips to help avoid COVID-19 scams:
- Do not purchase items that purport to cure COVID-19. Currently there are no vaccines, pills, drinks, lotions or any other product available on the market that can treat or cure COVID-19.
- Do not purchase COVID-19 test kits on line.
- Do not click on links or reply to texts from unknown sources as these may download malware and viruses to computers or devices.
- Be particularly aware of emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO, claiming to have vital information about the virus. Instead, go directly to websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
- When it comes to donations, do not let a scammer rush you into making a donation. Instead, take the time to do extensive research online.
- Do not make a donation in cash, via gift card, or a wire transfer, and do not provide your banking information or debit card numbers.
Education is the best way to avoid being defrauded by scammers. To learn more about COVID-19 scams and for help with recognizing and avoiding fraud schemes please visit the Federal Trade Commission website. Report suspected fraud to the FBI at www.ic3.gov.