Scams surfacing as a result of coronavirus

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – You’ve heard how the coronavirus may affect your health but how about your wallet? There is growing concern about scams designed to take advantage of people’s fears about the illness.

“Well, crooks always take advantage of hot topics in the news and the coronavirus is certainly a hot topic,” says Susan Grant of the Consumer Federation of America. “We’re already seeing reports about scammers sending emails pretending to be from well-known organizations such as World Health Organization.”

Grant says consumers are urged to click on a “link” in the email to get more information about how to protect themselves from the virus. But she says the outcome may be to simply give your computer a virus.

“Instead of protecting them it ‘s actually infecting their computers by planting malware in them that can steal the personal information that their computers contain,” said Grant.

She advises to never click on links in emails or text messages.

Grant also told us another scam is surfacing featuring an email that managers get in their workplace claiming they owe money for masks or sanitizers reportedly ordered by the company.

“If people receive an email or get a phone call or see something that they think is suspicious they should pay heed to that little voice that says watch out and contact their state or local consumer protection agency for advice,” said Grant.

Another scam is a test message sent to use by a viewer which claimed the “outbreak” would cause banks to close and the receiver of the text should click on a link to get quick cash. The best advice is to delete the text.

“And we fully expect that we’ll see other types of scams such as claims for products to prevent or cure coronavirus and a cure doesn’t exist,” said Grant.

She also told us to beware of any coronavirus fundraising websites. “Crooks are very creative so they see that there’s something that consumers are concerned about and they either prey on their fears or they prey on a person’s charitable instincts,” Grant said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see emails or phone calls asking people to contribute to some sort of corona relief fund that actually doesn’t exist.”

Advice on all scams:

1) Don’t click on links in strange emails or text messages
2) Don’t provide personal banking or credit card information to anyone online or to a stranger who calls you
3) When in doubt, hang up or delete the text
4) When giving to any fundraising website or contributing to a charity, check out the organization in detail

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