As a result of the spread of the coronavirus in Fairfield County, local police are seeing a rise in phone calls and emails containing false information about the availability of cures and stimulus payments. Scammers claim they can provide both…for a price.
Soon-to-be-Easton Police Chief Richard Doyle has reviewed federal agency reports and compiled a list of tips “to keep the scammers at bay,” he said.
- 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.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. 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. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
- 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).
- 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.
Doyle added his own warnings. “Federal agencies do not call or email. Never, ever respond. Whenever you get a suspicious phone call, take a breath,” he suggested. “People get these calls and feel pressured to make a quick decision. They get scared and react.”
Instead, Doyle cautions, “We encourage you to call the police department to report the incident.
He has a special message for some of Easton’s most vulnerable: “Seniors are courteous. They don’t want to hang up on someone. Scammers prey on that.”
In short, Doyle says, “Don’t be afraid to be rude!”