The following is a news release from the Better Business Bureau.
IDAHO FALLS – The strand of coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19 has spread to the United States, and many in eastern Idaho are concerned.
But try not to panic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is responding to and monitoring the outbreak across the country and internationally. While this is bad news for most Americans, it’s great news for scammers who want to cash in on our anxiety about the disease. The Better Business Bureau warns the public to look out for fake cures, phony prevention measures, and other coronavirus cons.
How the Scam Works
You are worried about coronavirus and hear about preventions or a “cure” on social media, in an email, or a website. The message or website contains a lot of information about this amazing product, including convincing testimonials or a conspiracy theory backstory. For example, one scam email claims that the government has discovered a vaccine but is keeping it secret for “security reasons.” You figure it can’t hurt to give the medicine a try, so you get out your credit card.
Don’t do it! Currently, there are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent coronavirus, although treatments are in development. No approved vaccines, drugs, or products specifically for coronavirus can be purchased online or in stores.
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Peddling quack medicines isn’t the only way scammers are trying to cash in on coronavirus fears. Con artists are impersonating the CDC and the World Health Organization in phishing emails. These messages claim to have news about the disease and prompt readers to download malicious software. Another scam email tries to con people into donating to a fake fundraising effort, claiming to be a government program to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
Spot a Coronavirus Con by watching out for these red flags:
Don’t panic. Do your research. Be skeptical of alarmist and conspiracy theory claims and don’t rush into buying anything that seems too good – or crazy – to be true. Always double check information you see online with official news sources.
Be wary of personal testimonials and “miracle” product claims. Be suspicious of products that claim to immediately cure a wide range of diseases. No one product could be effective against a long, varied list of conditions or diseases. Also, testimonials are easy to make up and are not a substitute for scientific evidence.
It’s “all natural.” Just because it’s natural does not mean it’s good for you. All natural does not mean the same thing as safe.
Check with your doctor. If you’re tempted to buy an unproven product or one with questionable claims, check with your doctor or other health care professional first.
Stay up to date about coronavirus scams with the Federal Trade Commission on their website and check out BBB’s alert about counterfeit face masks. Learn more about the disease on the CDC’s website and learn more about the FDA’s progress in developing a treatment for coronavirus on their website.
If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it here. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.