How To Avoid Coronavirus Scams

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, 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.


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