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AARP Coronavirus Scam Alerts

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Scammers are doing what they always do – using headlines as opportunities to steal money or sensitive personal information and COVID-19 is no exception. The AARP Fraud Watch Network has received reports of door to door, telephone, email, and ad scams offering everything from testing kits to miracle cures to “Trump dollars.”

Be Wary of Sharing Personal Information online

Many of us are getting cabin fever these days and looking for distractions. Online games and social media challenges can be a fun way to break the boredom. However, they can also be a tool for scammers to mine personal information from potential victims.

Launching a quiz app may give its creators permission to pull information from your profile, offering hackers an opening to hijack your identity. Also, innocent-sounding queries about your high school mascot or first car can be common security questions that banks and financial firms use to protect accounts. Be careful what you share online and remember that scammers are always watching.

Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.

Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork


Look Out for Fake Testing Sites

As we enter another month of battling the coronavirus, the situation from state to state continues to change, sometimes on a daily basis. Uncertain times like these are when health care scams are most active.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network has received several reports of scammers starting fake testing popup sites. These sites appear quickly and disappear even faster. They aren’t affiliated with a local hospital or clinic and they all want your Medicare or health care number and payment for their bogus test. Check with your state or local health authorities for information on testing sites, and never provide your Medicare number or health insurance card to anyone but trusted health care providers.

When It Comes to the Coronavirus, Protect Your Health & Your Wallet

Scammers look to capitalize on the news of the moment, especially if the headlines can instill fear and motivate people to act. The ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus is no exception. While scientists and medical professionals are working overtime to find ways to test for and stem the spread of the virus, the Federal Trade Commission warns that bad actors are working hard to use this as an opportunity to deceive consumers and steal their money or sensitive information.

Just as you can protect yourself from the virus, you can also keep these opportunistic scammers at bay.

How it works:

- Scammers may set up websites to sell bogus coronavirus products — from face masks to vaccines to cure-alls — and use fake emails, texts and social media posts to get you to share payment or sensitive personal information.

- You may come across emails or social posts claiming to promote awareness and prevention tips, including fake information about cases in your neighborhood.

- Scammers may use this as a way to tout an alleged can’t-miss investment opportunity — say in face masks or a cure.

- You may get donation requests claiming to raise money to help victims.

What you should know:

- Know that there is currently no vaccine available for coronavirus.

- Any advertised investment opportunity that claims to ride the wave of economic activity due to the virus is probably an opportunity to lose money to a scam.

- Your best resources for information on the virus are the ones you know and trust — but first verify that the resource is who you think it is.

What you should do:

- Don’t click on email links from sources you don’t know. It could download malware on your device.

- Ignore any online offers for vaccinations or treatments. If a vaccine or treatment is developed, you will hear about it in the news, not on an online ad or sales pitch.

- If you receive a communication claiming to be from a government agency like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close the email and then visit the agency’s website directly at cdc.gov.

- Engage your inner skeptic when confronted with donation requests. Before giving, check out charity watchdogs, like give.org or charitynavigator.org.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. If you can SPOT a scam, you can STOP a scam. Please share this alert with friends and family.

Rely on entities that you know and trust for information on COVID-19. If you are online, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov or the World Health Organization at www.who.int. For updates on scams the federal government is tracking, visit www.ftc.gov/coronavirus. Pay heed to information from your state and local governments, and seek to verify the source (all government sites and emails in the US end in .gov). AARP is holding a weekly TeleTown hall to bring the experts to you with the latest information, and to answer your questions. Visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus for more information.

Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.

Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.

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