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Beware: Don’t fall victim to a Coronavirus scam

Fraudsters are using the public health emergency to steal our money and personal information. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has warned residents to exercise caution with phone, text and email solicitations for money or personal information that are tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Protect yourself from scams by reading our tips.

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  have issued warning letters to multiple sellers of unapproved and misbranded products that claim they can treat or prevent Coronavirus. Those products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver. Don’t let yourself get caught up in a scam. As of now, the FDA says there are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure 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, government agencies won’t send emails or call asking for personal information for you to receive economic stimulus funds.

  • Delete text messages from unknown sources that appear to hyperlink to information about the pandemic. This may be a trick to install malware on your mobile device.

  • Hang up on robocalls. A poll this past spring found that 37 percent of respondents had yelled or even used bad language with a robocaller. We recommend you just hang up.  The poll showed that nearly 25 percent of respondents had seen an uptick in calls since the COVID-19 outbreak. Telecom scams are peddling phony COVID-19 cures, bogus testing kits, financial relief and work-from-home schemes. (In general, common robo-scams are imposters claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service or Social Security Administration. Such agencies would rarely, if ever, call you.) Don’t engage, even if the recording instructs you to press a number to be removed from the call list. That might just signal to the robocaller that a live person has the number—and it may lead to more calls.

  • To report scams connected to the COVID-19 outbreak visit the Illinois Attorney General’s website. If you want accurate information about COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.