By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – From drugs that cure covid19 to stimulus checks access, the Federal Trade Commission warned the public to be vigilant for scammers who are taking advantage of the coronavirus contagion.
FTC associate director for consumer concerns Monica Vaca said that scammers may have shifted their modus operandi during the contagion.
“Scammers usually follow the headlines. So they text message or email you regarding coronavirus related schemes,” said Vaca during a national teleconference sponsored by the Ethnic Media Services and FTC on Friday, May 15, 2020.
Vaca noted that there still is no drug that is found to cure COVID19 and so any claim for a cure is likely a fraud. She added: “The government does not reach out to you through text messages. So be wary about access of stimulus checks from callers,” she warned.
Between January 1 and May 14, 2020, the FTC received 45,623 complaints on cases of fraud, identity theft, and credit cards, valued at $33.84M in total losses with a median fraud loss of $478.
The top 5 fraud products or services based on the reports received by FTC are: Travel and vacation, online shopping, mobile: text messages, health care: diet products, centers, and plans, and Internet information services.
Since it takes time to track down scammers, Vaca cited the need for public vigilance. She advised the public to report scams to FTC (FTC.gov) and call their banks to file a charge-back for unauthorized transactions.