The COVID crisis has turned our lives upside down and some see it as an opportunity.
“We know that scammers follow the headlines,” Colleen Tressler with the Federal Trade Commission said.
Tressler explains consumers are easy targets in this pandemic.
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“The agency has received more than 270,000 specific COVID related complaints, the fraud loses dollar wise associated with that is over $200 million,” Tressler said.
The initial demand for tests, masks, and other personal protective gear gave scammers a hook to steal money and personal information.
The new hook is the COVID Vaccine.
In addition to the FTC, local cyber security experts are following the schemes.
“The biggest one that we see is getting on the list, you know, submitting all your information to see if you qualify for an advanced expedited vaccination,” Matt Barnett with SEVNX said.
The tips to avoid it are clear cut.
“Don’t share personal information with anyone calling you, texting you, emailing you, about the availability of the vaccine early,” Tressler said.
Most Americans will need to wait weeks or months to get the shots and the process of how and when will be carefully communicated.
“Go to a trusted source for information rather than getting something online or in your email box that is from somebody you don’t know,” Tressler said.
Experts also suggest not opening or responding to text messages and hyperlinks about COVID-19 from unknown sources.
Also, if you do receive an unsolicited call asking for personal information you should hang up immediately.