By PATRICIA SMITH
Special to Atmore News
As cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) accelerate, scammers are looking for ways to take advantage of the fears surrounding this widespread illness.
Many websites are being created to sell bogus products. Scammers are using fake emails, texts, and social media to access money and personal information. Scams are also promoting fake information on awareness and prevention of coronavirus cases in communities.
The following are tips to help you avoid falling for scams.
* Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. These links could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure your anti-malware and antivirus software is up to date.
* Watch for imposter emails. These emails may claim to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that they have information about the virus. Do not open them. Unless you are already on a subscribed email list from the CDC or the World Health Organization (WHO), you should not receive random emails from either of these agencies. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website.
* Ignore online offers for vaccinations and miracle treatments. You may see advertisements for the prevention, treatment, and cure of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Delete them. Use common sense with this type of advertising. You will not be notified of a major medical breakthrough with an advertisement or sales pitch.
* Do your homework. When considering donating to victims, organizations, charities, or crowdfunding sites, don’t rush. If someone suggests that he or she would like to have a donation in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
* Beware of scam investment opportunities. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued an investor alert warning about online promotions. These might include social media claims that products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure the coronavirus (COVID19) and that stock in these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. Before making any type of investment in a company, contact a financial adviser or legitimate investment company. More information is available on the SEC’s website.
Patricia Smith is an agent with Alabama Cooperative Extension System.