Protect Yourself from Coronavirus Scams: What You Need to Know

Corona Scams

We hope you are well and staying engaged during this challenging time. As with anything new and unfamiliar, there are always people who are eager to prey on individuals’ fear and try to take advantage of others. As a result, scams are abounding related to Coronavirus.

Scammers generally try to take advantage of a vulnerability. They use scare tactics and move quickly often making the victim feel pressured into doing what the scammer wants. The best way to protect yourself is to stay calm and ask a lot of questions. If something doesn’t feel right, end the conversation, then close the door or hang up the telephone.

One scam seen in Chicagoland involves scammers going to homes wearing medical protective equipment, like a medical mask, and announcing they are from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). They claim to be there to offer the residents a test for Covid-19. It should be noted that it is not the policy of the CDC, nor any other government agency, to come to your home to provide medical testing. If this happens, say “no,” close the door, and call the police.

Another scam involves fake Coronavirus websites. As with all websites, think before you click. To get up to date information on Coronavirus, visit trusted websites such as the CDC (www.cdc.gov) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (www.dph.illinois.gov). Some malicious websites have maps that supposedly show you the spread of the virus across the United States. These maps can contain malware. That means that if you click on them, a computer virus is downloaded to your computer. The maps may seem interesting or appealing, but it is better to get the information from trusted web sources.

Email scams are always popular, and one current scam involves fake CDC emails. To get up-to- date information, always go to a trusted website rather than clicking links in an unfamiliar email. This is especially true for banks and other financial institutions. Banks will never email you asking for your login information or password. If you suspect there is a problem with your account, call the bank right away.

Scams are already abounding related to the recently passed government stimulus. Be aware of phishing emails asking you to verify personal information to receive a government stimulus check. These are scams. You should never share your personal information via email. This includes not sharing your social security number, bank account information, PayPal account, or any other financial account information. The government stimulus will be sent to you without you needing to do anything, or if you have arranged it, it will be deposited directly.

The internet offers many wonderful ways to connect to friends and stay engaged while still socially distanced. We hope you will join some of our new programming at www.cje.net/cyberclub.

For questions about this article please email Tamara Kushnir Groman at tamara.kushnirgroman@cje.net