According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center has reviewed more than 3,600 complaints related to COVID-19 scams, as of April 21, 2020. Many of the scams had websites that advertised fake vaccines, cures, fraudulent charity drives, and various other types of scams. Fraudsters are utilizing domain names that contain the words “covid19,” or “coronavirus” to attract traffic. The Federal Trade Commission says coronavirus-related scams have cost Americans $13.4 Million so far this year.
Fake Miracle Cures
Numerous fake websites are claiming to have a cure for COVID-19. With over 40,000 domain names using the word “coronavirus,” you have to be on alert. Unless the information is coming from a health care professional or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ignore it.
Tech Support Scams
Scammers are taking advantage of people working from home by anticipating that they will run into a tech issue and search for help online. Fraudsters have created fake websites to disguise themselves as legitimate tech companies to capture personal information of those seeking tech support.
Do not use a search engine to find a company’s tech support phone number. Instead, visit the company’s official website to make sure the number you dial is legitimate.
Although many people are eager to get their hands on a coronavirus test, the Food and Drug Administration only recently approved the first at-home test. Specifically, the FDA re-issued authorization for the Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) COVID-19 RT-PCR Test. The test uses samples self-collected by patients at home using LabCorp’s COVID-19 Test home collection kit. If a website claims to have “coronavirus tests” available for purchase online, it is likely a scam.
Scam websites that claim to have coronavirus tests are collecting personal data and credit card numbers.
Fake Bosses and Co-Workers
While most people are working-from-home, scammers have an opportunity to hack into a company's network and impersonate an employee. Hackers may also claim to be your company’s help desk, requesting passwords for “verification.” Even if a request seems legitimate, always confirm details by phone.
Phony Small Business Loan Sites
Small business owners are struggling, and scammers know the Payroll Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan processes can be challenging to navigate. Be wary of fake Small Business Administration (SBA) websites that require a down payment to get a government loan. The only website to safely apply for a government assistance loan is SBA.gov.
By staying alert, you can avoid becoming a victim of coronavirus related scams.