Even a pandemic isn’t enough to deter scammers from going after your money and identity. Here are eight tips from fraud experts to protect you during the coronavirus outbreak.
1. Be extremely careful when shopping online.
Before you place a digital order with an unfamiliar store, check out the company or product online first, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urges.
Complaints about online shopping made to the consumer-protection agency rank first among the nearly 115,000 coronavirus-related fraud reports this year, says the FTC’s Colleen Tressler.
Online shopping complaints skyrocketed in April and May, when more than half the people complaining said they never got what they ordered. Early on, shady sellers set up websites offering hard-to-find products such as masks, sanitizer, toilet paper, thermometers and gloves. Sellers blamed the pandemic for shipping delays, then stopped responding to consumers, who in some cases were sent counterfeit or defective items or products not in the size ordered.
2. Be wary of strange texts, calls and emails.
Scammers reach out any way they can, including through social media. Some bad actors even show up at your door.
The number of complaints about violations of the National Do Not Call Registry “are starting to pick up again after months of decline,” Tressler says. “As the scammers take to the phones again, you can expect to see an uptick in popular phone scams.”