Watch out for these scams during the coronavirus pandemic

Watch out for these scams during the coronavirus pandemic
The WAFB 9News Alert Team tracks common scams and alerts you when one is circulating in our area.

(WAFB) - It’s no secret that scammers prey on people during their most vulnerable times.

President Donald Trump is urging all older Americans to stay home and everyone to avoid crowds and eating out at restaurants for at least the next few weeks as officials forecast a surge in the coronavirus outbreak.

The Gonzales Police Department says it’s “infuriating how many people attempt to take advantage of others during trying times.”

Watch out for these scams while you’re stuck at home

Police are urging the public to be aware of the following known scams:

  • A text from Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming services stating that due to social distancing, they’re offering free, premium service
  • An email claiming you’re eligible for an emergency government grant
  • A call from Louisiana State Police asking if you’d like them to come and visit your home or office in order to offer advice on the best security company to use
  • A call from someone stating your family member is exhibiting signs of the coronavirus and is in hospital, but they can’t be seen until a deposit is paid.
Scammers are attempting to take advantage of people during the coronavirus outbreak with phishing text messages and emails.
Scammers are attempting to take advantage of people during the coronavirus outbreak with phishing text messages and emails. (Source: BBB)

What can you do?

If you receive a suspicious message, send an email to charlotte@gonzalesla.com.

If you receive an email you believe to be spam, you’re asked to forward it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at reportphishing@apwg.org.

If you get a scam text message, forward it to SPAM (7726).

If you get a scam telephone call, contact the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information line at 1-877-382-4357. You can also contact the Louisiana Attorney General’s Fraud Protection hotline by calling 1-800-351-4889.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of South Central Louisiana also offers resources to warn consumers about scams revolving around COVID-19.

The BBB is also warning people of fake government relief checks. The United States Treasury Department announced the week of March 16 it could soon start issuing relief checks to American families as soon as April to offset lost income due to the pandemic.

Scammers, however, have taken advantage of this. If you get a message about a government relief check, beware, the BBB says. The link may send you to what appears to be an official government website asking you to enter your personal information. The BBB warns that this is a scam.

BBB warns people of fake COVID-19 government-issued relief checks

TIPS TO SPOT A COVID-19 SCAM

  • Remember: Government agencies do not communicate through social media avenues like Facebook. And be aware of unsolicited messages.
  • Do NOT pay any money for a “free” government grant: If you have to pay money to claim a “free” grant, it’s not really free. A real government agency will not ask you to pay an advanced processing fee. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is Grants.gov.
  • Do your research: See if that government agency or organization actually exists. Find their contact info and call them to make sure it’s legitimate.

Click here to track COVID-19 scams via the BBB. Consumers can contact the BBB by calling 346-5222.

Click here to report a typo.

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