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CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: CONSUMER PROTECTION

Scammers are out there right now, trying to capitalize on anxiety caused by COVID-19 to prey on the public. As the public health crisis continues, beware of products fraudulently marketed as “vaccine” or “cure” for the coronavirus. Be aware of scams through emails impersonating reputable organizations, like the World Health Organization, in an attempt to steal personal identifiable information. 

And, with the federal government preparing to send cash payments to help Americans weather the pandemic’s financial effects, con artists may pretend they are representing the government in an attempt to collect a “fee” that they claim is needed prior to receiving a payment.

Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:

  • Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers use illegal robocalls to pitch everything from sham 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.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the “Coronavirus disease 2019” (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus.
  • 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. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
  • Watch out for price gouging. New Jersey prohibits excessive price increases during a state of emergency. You can report it to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (https://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/COVID19/Pages/default.aspx).
  • 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.

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