6 Things you can do to avoid COVID-19 scams

COVID-19 scam image of person thinking while holding a phone.

Scammers are trying to take advantage of the misinformation and fear surrounding the coronavirus to steal your personal information and money. They may try to reach you in different ways — anything from phone calls and emails to fake charities and unauthorized vaccines. Follow these tips to protect yourself and your wallet from scammers.

1. Don’t click on links from unknown senders

Though many legitimate coronavirus emails and text messages are heading for your inbox, cybercriminals are also sending messages to try to gain access to your personal information. If something seems off about an email, don’t click on any links and delete it.

2. Ignore robocalls

Scammers may also try to contact you via phone. If you receive a phone call from an unknown or suspicious number, ignore it or hang up immediately. Don’t press any numbers or offer any personal information to the caller.

3. Disregard offers for home testing kits and vaccinations

You may have seen online advertisements and offers for home testing kits or vaccinations to cure COVID-19, but these are just another scam. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t authorized any home testing kits, and many of these products aren’t proven to treat or prevent the virus.

4. Don’t ‘sign up’ to receive a relief check

The federal government has the information it needs to send you your relief check if you filed taxes for 2018 and/or 2019. Anyone asking for your personal information to help you “sign up” to receive your check is a scammer, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

5. Research online sellers before making a purchase

Some scammers are posing as online sellers with access to in-demand items, such as cleaning products and medical supplies. If you need any of these products, use a trusted delivery service or order directly from a store.

6. Don’t rush into making a donation

Before donating to a charity or supporting a cause on a crowdfunding site, research the organizer and the cause. If you see any red flags, consider donating to a different charity. The FTC offers more tips to avoid charity scams.

To keep yourself and others safe, be on the lookout for misinformation. Many people — often, not intentionally — are sharing information that isn’t backed by research or hasn’t been verified by qualified experts. To get the most up-to-date information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites.