Whether it involves faces masks, hand sanitizer, hospital and medical supplies, or a stimulus check, scams against healthcare organizations and individuals are booming with COVID-19 as the starting point. Hackers and cybercriminals are looking at the pandemic as a great opportunity to take advantage of unsuspecting businesses and consumers in a variety of ways.
The FBI is advising the public to be aware of different suspicious types of activity. When it comes to goods and materials, this may include but is not limited to, unusual payment terms on a sale, price gauging, unexpected last-minute delays in shipping, unclear points of origin for products, and counterfeit products. The last thing you want to be in possession of is hand sanitizer or protective medical gear that isn’t what it claims to be.
In regard to payment of stimulus checks, do not give out identifying information online or via a telephone call. The government will provide clear instructions and you should always follow those guidelines. Always verify it if you aren’t sure! Scammers will call you or send you an email indicating that you are to “click here” or “press one” (or another number) if you want to proceed with receiving your check. Do not fall victim to this by clicking or pressing anything. And remember, social media outlets can be another way that cybercriminals try to reach you. Just because a trusted friend shares something, does not make it legitimate.
If you suspect price gouging, which is when there is an unreasonable asking price due to high demand and limited supply, you can report that to law enforcement. Should you come across any other suspicious activity or are just unsure about the validity of anything you’re seeing, you can report these to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov or look on your state government website for additional resources.
You may feel that you are just one person and unable to make a difference, but collectively we can come together for the greater good of businesses and consumers who would fall victim.