Covid-19 Scams – Staying Safe and Avoiding Fraud
The global Covid-19 crisis has provided the perfect situation for fraudsters to act. It is a time of fear and uncertainty, with scammers taking full advantage of this by sending out malicious email campaigns, social media posts, and other malicious content under the guise of helpful information about the coronavirus.
This should be no surprise, as healthcare fraud is nothing new. But because there is increased anxiety regarding covid-19, con-men around the world are taking advantage by pushing their scams onto unsuspecting victims.
These scams take many shapes and forms, with most preying on the fear that people understandable have about the coronavirus. This could be uncertainties regarding their finances or a fear of contracting the virus itself, two common problems that have unfortunately made people more susceptible to fraudulent attacks.
The Most Common Covid-19 Scams
Here are some of the most common covid-19 scams – avoid these at all costs!
Perhaps the most common scam circling the web is an email, call, or social media post claiming to have some sort of treatment or cure for Covid-19. Let us make this point perfectly clear – there currently is no cure, treatment, or vaccine for the coronavirus.
Anything claiming otherwise is 100% a scam and something you can avoid at first sight. Rest assured, whenever a cure or vaccine becomes available, you won’t be informed about via email or a random cold call!
Another popular scam is the testing scam, which involves individuals or organizations contacting you and offering a covid-19 test. These often claim to be government backed schemes, with the scammer asking for insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare information so you can get tested.
Do not fall for this scam!
It is a common type of healthcare fraud designed to get your personal information, and many people are sadly falling victim to it due to their fears about the coronavirus. Only speak with your doctor regarding the possibility of testing, as anyone else claiming to provide this will be trying to scam you.
Fake Online Resource Scams
Sometimes scams are very subtle, directing you towards a resource that can provide vital information about the virus, treatment, or testing. This is often in the guise of an informative email, when is really a phishing scam designed to get you to click a link or open an attachment.
Doing so results in a virus being downloaded onto your computer, which can lead to all kinds of data theft including your bank info, personal data, passwords, and much more. Scammers then use this information to commit all kinds of fraud at your expense.
Sadly, scammers have no shame in posing as a charity and asking for money, so be mindful of any calls, emails, or social media posts coming from a charity. While many are legitimate charities, there are plenty more that are looking for donations that go straight into their own pockets.
Social media posts appear to be the most common way of doing this, so keep an eye on Facebook posts from supposed charities. Yes, many charities are in dire need of assistance and others are providing invaluable help to those impacted by the virus, so you need to be extra cautious as it could be a scammer taking advantage.
How to Identify Covid-19 Scams
By knowing the most common sources of these covid-19 scams, you can be better prepared to identify them in the first place. This is a great way to avoid them, as you should be suspicious if you are receiving any of the following:
Robocalls and Cold Calls
A robocall is a common tool used in scams. It is basically a computer program that auto-dials numbers and plays a pre-recorded message. In the case of Covid-19 scams, these robocalls are usually offering personal protective equipment (PPE) that are hard to come by, such as respiratory masks.
However, any of these messages claiming to have supplies or PPE you can buy are a complete scam. They will take your money and never send out the items, while likely using any personal info you gave them to commit other types of fraud.
So, if you get a phone call that is a pre-recorded message promising supplies to help stay safe against the coronavirus, then hang up immediately. It doesn’t need to be a robot either – sometimes there is a person at the other end of the line committing the same type of fraud.
Seniors are more likely to fall for this type of scam, so be sure to repeatedly ask them if they have had any phone calls regarding the coronavirus over the coming weeks.
Social Media Posts
Many scams occur from social media posts, and these can be hard to identify as fraudulent because they look like the real deal. It’s often a post, private message, or advert that is asking for donations for a charity helping to fight the impact of Covid-19.
This is taking advantage of the all the efforts made to help various charities during the crisis, with many good-hearted people donating to what they believe is a good cause. Sadly, it’s just an effort to steal your money, so avoid them at all costs.
If you want to donate to a charity, make sure you check its legitimacy online and use their official website to donate. If you are using a link found on social media, always check the domain name to make sure it is not a fake version of a legitimate charity.
Email scams are nothing new, so it is no surprise that many covid-19 phishing scams are appearing during the crisis. These emails come with an attachment or link that put your data at serious risk if opened.
It could potentially open a virus on your computer, which in turn can steal personal data like your bank info, passwords, contacts, and other vital information you don’t want in the hands of fraudsters.
So, it is vital that you do not open emails or attachments for a sender you do not know. Always check email addresses to identify the sender, and if you don’t know them just delete the message entirely.