Although the country is going through unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the presence of scammers and those looking to prey on vulnerable populations remains unchanged. The health crisis has only increased the opportunities for individuals wanting to make a dishonest quick buck. Bell Law is committed to helping consumers in Missouri and Kansas stay vigilant and aware of bad actors, and in that pursuit, we have put together a short guide to help you stay protected during the spread of coronavirus.
Specific Types of Scams Related to the Pandemic
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of scams currently going around the U.S., but a few common threads have emerged, such as:
- Scammers offering bogus cures or preventions for COVID-19
- Scammers offering “free” home testing kits for the virus
- One particular scam texted people about a “free” iPhone 11, purportedly to help those affected by stay-at-home orders comply with the terms
- Phishing scams – scammers’ disguising themselves as being trustworthy figures to get sensitive information from victims. In the case of COVID-19, phishers have been manipulating their email addresses to appear as if they work for the CDC or other health organization.
How to Protect Yourself (From Scammers and COVID-19)
All offers extended to you or a loved one should be viewed with extreme skepticism. Being a healthy skeptic will go a long way toward protecting you against any type of scammer, coronavirus-related or not. If a specific company has contacted you with any type of offer, do your due diligence before making any decisions to part with your money. Verify that the company contacting you is legitimate and is not simply a fly-by-night outfit. Additionally, you should take steps to back up your data and install two-factor authentication whenever possible.
In the meantime, practice social distancing (six feet apart from strangers and ESPECIALLY anyone who appears to be sick). Refrain from touching your face, disinfect commonly used surfaces, and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds several times throughout the day. Many states and municipalities have been ordering closure of non-essential businesses, while some have gone further and ordered people to stay at home unless they are fulfilling essential life functions. Ignoring such orders could result in your facing criminal charges, in addition to putting your health at risk.
If you suspect that your stimulus check or any other form of financial relief was unfairly taken from you, you may have had your legal rights violated and you should reach out to a consumer protection attorney immediately.