Protect Yourself Against Pandemic Scammers
It is an unfortunate fact of human nature that in times of crisis, a small minority of people seek to take advantage of the panic and confusion of the times. The Coronavirus pandemic we find ourselves in today is no exception, and scammers are targeting consumers around the world with fake vaccines, fraudelant schemes, and counterfeit medication. There is a great amount of uncertainty as governments and public health officials grapple with coming up with the best response to the virus, and scammers offering “guaranteed results” or “miracle cures” have already bilked thousands of consumers out of their hard-earned money. On Sunday, March 22nd, the Department of Justice announced the beginning of its first criminal prosecution of a coronavirus cure scammer, obtaining a temporary restraining order against a website called “coronavirusmedicalkit[dot]com” that sold bogus “vaccine kits”. This investigation will surely not be the last.
Kazerouni Law Group, APC, is one of the leading consumer rights firms in the country, and over the last 13 years have fought everyday for the rights of consumers who have been victims of scams like these. Here are some simple tips to help you protect yourselve from scammers:
- Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. 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.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. 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. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
- Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
- Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
- Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
- 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).
- 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, don’t do it.
If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, you can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or by e-mailing the NCDF at email@example.com
Additionally, Kazerouni Law Group, APC, is offering free consultations to any American who believes they have been a victim of fraud due to the coronavirus. You can contact us by calling 1-800-400-6808, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org