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Consumer Reports: COVID scams are on the rise

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 09:26:13-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - As the coronavirus swept across the nation this past March, Kalli Davidson got a notification on her phone that a purchase was made at a nearby Target. But there was a problem.

She immediately confirmed with her bank that her credit card had been compromised. And Kalli’s not alone. From bogus cures and treatments to fake websites promising to get your relief money, scammers are finding new ways to take advantage of an already dire situation.

“Unfortunately, scammers are very creative and they come up with all sorts of ways to prey on people in the middle of a pandemic," says Christina Tetreault, Consumer Reports Financial Policy Advocate.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission has recorded over 59 thousand coronavirus and stimulus-related complaints with losses totaling over $74 million.

Although no cures or vaccines have been approved to treat COVID-19, it hasn’t stopped fraudsters from trying to sell phony remedies like teas, essential oils, and intravenous vitamin-C therapies.

Financial scammers are also saying they can speed up your stimulus payment check. Be wary of any type of robocall or email that uses the term "stimulus" and ask you to provide personal information like your Social Security number.

And then there are phishing scams from fake websites that may have “coronavirus” or “covid19” in their domain names.

“People need to be very vigilant about sharing personal information if they did not initiate the contact," says Tetreault.

And when it comes to credit card fraud, CR says to sign up for push notifications and check your credit reports. The big three credit reporting agencies are offering free weekly online reports through next April. Go to annualcreditreport.com for details.