Beware of scams

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The following information was shared from Officer Kim Jones via NextDoor:

As the world struggles to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, people are scrambling to find trustworthy information about the spread of the disease, how they can protect themselves, how they can get tested and more. Unfortunately, the spammers and scammers are using the situation to take advantage of people, many of whom may be more vulnerable to their nefarious efforts than usual during these uncertain times.

Many of the COVID-19 scams going around involve attempts by companies and individuals to sell products they claim to prevent or cure COVID-19. As of yet there is no available cure. Phishing schemes, in which a scammer sends an e-mail or text meant to trick you into handing over your personal info, have gotten pretty sophisticated in recent years, and can even include elements like official imagery or e-mail addresses that look similar to those used by official businesses. Likewise, phone calls and texts from scammers pretending to be official business may include information like your name or phone number to try to convince you that they’re real.

To spot COVID-19 e-mail and text scams, look for generic greetings (like “Hello, Sir/Madame”), requests for confirmation of personal information or e-mails related to updating your billing details to judge whether or not an e-mail from a company is legitimate. If a message’s language seems urgent, as though it’s attempting to pressure you into giving up your information to avert some sort of data disaster, it could very well be fake. If you receive a suspicious e-mail from a particular company or even a friend or your employer, contact them separately via phone to verify the message before replying or otherwise acting on it.

Some of the scams that have been reported across the country thus far include:

  • Cell phone apps providing a COVID19 tracking map. Running in the background of these apps is a customized version of SpyMax which allows control of your phone’s information. Information suggests as many as 30 of these fraudulent apps have been identified.
  • Phishing emails and phone calls impersonating entities such as the World Health Organization and government authorities.
  • Misinformation being sent via text, social media and emails.
  • Products claiming to be a vaccine or cure for COVID19.
  • Claims that you can reserve COVID19 vaccine and get ahead of others.
  • Investment scams claiming COVID19 has created financial opportunities.
  • Shopping sites readily offering products you know are nearly impossible to get.
  • Calls claiming to represent the federal government's proposed stimulus package.
  • Persons in lab coats offering to perform COVID19 testing door to door. The American Red Cross is not offering home tests.

And no you don't need to buy COVID-19 software to protect your computer from the virus - protect yourself...Don’t let anyone pressure you into making any decisions. Don’t click on internet sources you don’t know. Never respond to unsolicited e-mails, text messages or social media messages from strangers. Immediately delete them. Keep your computer security (anti-virus and malware) software up to date. If you plan to make any donations, make sure you know the charity and assure your donation is going to its intended cause.