FTC Issues “Warning Letters” and FTC Guidance For Consumers To Avoid Coronavirus Scams – “Scammers Don’t Take A Break”
Kehoe Law Firm, P.C. is making consumers aware that on March 19, 2020, the FTC issued information and guidance regarding Coronavirus scams the FTC has observed.
FTC Sends Warning Letters to Sellers of Scam Coronavirus Treatments
Last month, the FTC and FDA jointly issued warning letters to seven sellers of unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent Coronavirus. The seven companies which received letters are: Vital Silver, Aromatherapy Ltd., N-ergetics, GuruNanda, LLC, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy LLC, and The Jimmy Bakker Show. For more information, click “warning letters.”
Tips For Consumers To Avoid Coronavirus Scams
The FTC has provided the following tips for consumers to “keep scammers at bay”:
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they 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. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores.
- 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.
FTC Guidance Regarding Undelivered Goods, Fake Charities, Fake E-Mail and Text Messages, Phishing E-Mail Scams
Online sellers claim they have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies. You place an order, but you never get your shipment. Anyone can set up shop online under almost any name — including scammers.
What to do: Check out the seller by searching online for the person or company’s name, phone number and email address, plus words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” If everything checks out, pay by credit card and keep a record of your transaction. If you’re concerned about the pricing of products in your area, contact your state consumer protection officials. For a complete list of state Attorneys General, visit naag.org.
When a major health event — like the Coronavirus — happens, you might be looking for ways to help. Scammers use the same events to take advantage of your generosity. Some scammers use names that sound a lot like the names of real charities. This is one reason it pays to do some research before giving. Money lost to bogus charities means less donations to help those in need.
Fake E-Mail and Text Messages and Phishing E-Mail Scams
Scammers use fake emails or texts to get you to share valuable personal information — like account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords. They use your information to steal your money, your identity, or both. They also use phishing emails to get access to your computer or network. If you click on a link, they can install ransomware or other programs that can lock you out of your data. Scammers often use familiar company names or pretend to be someone you know.
Other scammers have used real information to infect computers with malware. For example, malicious websites used the real Johns Hopkins University interactive dashboard of Coronavirus infections and deaths to spread password-stealing malware.
What to do: Protect your computer by keeping your software up to date and by using security software, your cell phone by setting software to update automatically, your accounts by using multi-factor authentication, and your data by backing it up.
Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes.
What to do: Hang up. Don’t press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
Misinformation and Rumors
Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that has not been verified.
What to do: Before you pass on any messages, and certainly before you pay someone or share your personal information, do some fact checking by contacting trusted sources. For information related to the Coronavirus, visit What the U.S. Government is Doing.