Be alert for COVID-19 and other scams

Shari Harris

Scams are nothing new. Several area citizens have been cheated out of their savings over the years. In a recent case, a woman received a phone call from a man who said her social security number was in jeopardy unless she acted quickly. In retrospect, she realizes she shouldn’t have believed him. But the smooth talker frightened and confused her to the point that she sent him money to “fix” her social security card.
Another local resident sent money to scammers several times before the family caught on and stopped the scam. When an elderly gentleman received a call saying he needed to send money to bail out his grandson, he asked to speak to his grandson. Another voice on the line apparently resembled his grandson enough that he sent the requested amount to the scammer.
Scammers seek out the elderly and watch for times of stress. If someone is feeling overwhelmed, it is easier to frighten them into making a huge mistake. Now is a prime time for scammers to act, so beware. Here are some tips from the FTC on how to avoid scams:
•Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
•Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
• Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
• Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
• 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 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (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.
More information about scams is available at



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