The Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Trade Commission issued warnings for investors and consumers to be on the alert for various fraudulent schemes that have been popping up across fake websites, texts, emails and social media posts.
Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus. They are setting up websites to sell bogus products, take your money and get your personal information, the FTC reported.
The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood and city. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, and offering investments in new groundbreaking medical treatments. Be aware that these websites and email could be loaded with malicious content.
Take note, the World Health Organization reported on Feb. 5, there are "no known effective therapeutics" available at this time to fight coronavirus, despite news reports in recent days touting breakthroughs, vaccines and various remedies.
The FTC issued these tips:
– Never click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the antimalware and antivirus 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.
– Get more information on the latest scams by signing up for the FTC’s consumer alerts. If you come across any suspicious claims, report them to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
Watch this FTC video that explains various frauds and how to spot them before you become a victim –