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Watch Out for Coronavirus Scams

Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Learn how to protect yourself from misinformation, phishing attacks, and other targeted scams.

This article applies to: Security & Policy

Scammers are following the headlines and taking advantage of fears surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Stay informed and alert to avoid these and other targeted scams.

  • Calls or emails claiming you were exposed to coronavirus and attempts to "sell" a testing kit. There have been reports of scammers contacting individual claiming they have been exposed and need to purchase a testing kit. Tompkins County Health Department handles testing and is not currently selling any test kits. Please view their testing FAQ for more information.  
  • Promotion of products that claim to prevent, treat, or cure the coronavirus. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), "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."  
  • Requests for donations to fraudulent charities. If someone asks you for donations in cash, gift cards, or by wire transfer, don’t do it. That’s how scammers ask you to pay. See the FTC's guide on how to donate wisely and avoid charity scams.  
  • Misinformation. Beware of email and social media posts that claim to be from experts. 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).  
  • Phishing. The U.S. Secret Service has reported a number of phishing scams related to the virus. The fraudulent emails claim to be from a medical or health organization, with links to bogus websites where you are asked to enter your email, password, and other personal identity information. These messages may also include malicious attachments intended to infect your device. Always confirm links by hovering over them to reveal the URL before you click, and never open attachments from untrusted sources. Learn how to spot fraudulent email and avoid phishing attacks.


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