CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – We are now learning about new ways to keep yourself safe from the coronavirus, but now, federal officials are urging people to be extra cautious when it comes to searching the web.
Right now, everyone’s focus is on avoiding the actual virus itself, but another way to find yourself in danger is through COVID-19 online scams.
“This is kind of crazy that this is our new normal for a while.”
“Unfortunately your right, but everyone is having to adjust right now.”
The world looks very different today than it did even one week ago, thanks to the pandemic.
While many of us are consumed with trying to avoid the virus, the FBI is warning people, especially those working from home, to be on the lookout for COVID-19 scams.
“During this unfortunate crisis, there are criminal elements that are attempting to pray on people’s fears,” Nicholas Boshears, assistant special agent in charge, says.
FBI Special Agent Nick Boshears says in an attempt to profit from consumer health concerns, online scammers may set up fake websites, send emails or texts, or post on social media to see fake products that claim to cure or prevent the disease.
“As they search for COVID-19 products on the internet, they are going to get hits for non-legitimate sites and there could be a problem,” Boshears says.
Boshears says there are four important steps that people need to remember while online.
“The first thing that people can do is to avoid opening attachments and clicking on links from senders that you don’t recognize,” he says.
Tip two: You should verify all information comes from a verified source. For example, get the latest information from the original source like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
“Third, refuse to supply login credentials or financials to anything COVID-19 related,” Boshears says.
Also, type in the actual domain name when searching for information or products.
Two other things to consider, the State Attorney General is urging the big online shopping sites like Walmart, Google and Amazon to watch for price gouging. And you should comparison shop also to make you’re getting a good deal.
And finally, if you see something that isn’t right, each State Attorney General has an online consumer complaint form. You can find West Virginia’s consumer complaint form here, Kentucky’s here and Ohio’s here. The U.S. Food and Drug and Federal Trade Commission also has information on how to file a consumer complains on its websites.
It’s also important for parents to remind their children about potential scams as more and more people begin working and schooling from home.