There are a lot of people trying to make money off coronavirus anxiety right now, whether by charging $120 for a bottle of Purell, selling counterfeit face masks on Etsy, or claiming that you can cure COVID-19 with essential oils.
There are also a handful of online scams out there—phishing scams, malware scams, fake crowdfunding campaigns—that you need to be aware of.
As Julia Glum explains at Money.com, coronavirus-related scams could include any or all of the following: emails asking you to give money to the World Health Organisation (which does not solicit donations), emails asking you to download a program that can help with coronavirus research, emails offering new COVID-19 information if you open an attachment or provide a password, and so on.
Basically, if you get an unusual email related to the coronavirus—especially if the email includes an attachment, instructions to click a link and/or log in to an account, or a request for money—be very careful.
The FTC has put together a list of scam-prevention advice:
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 health officials or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores.
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.
Remember: practicing good digital hygiene during the coronavirus outbreak is (almost) as important as remembering to wash your hands.