Georgia’s top officials are warning Georgians to be on the lookout for scams related to the coronavirus. As with any tragedy or event that grabs headlines, there is always a risk of bad actors taking advantage of a serious situation.
Governor Brian P. Kemp and Attorney General Chris Carr are warning Georgia residents to watch out for scams that could include websites selling bogus products, as well as fake emails, texts, and social media posts designed to steal people’s money and personal information.
These scam emails and posts may promote awareness and offer prevention tips and fake information about cases in your area. They also might ask for donations to help victims of the virus, offer advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments.
“The Coronavirus Task Force is working around the clock to prepare for any scenario that might arise,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “It’s a shame, but all too often, con artists will use headlines to prey on the fears of consumers and trick them. Stay vigilant and make sure you’re getting your information from trusted sources, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia Department of Public Health, and World Health Organization. The Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division is set up to investigate scams and hold bad actors accountable, so if you see something that doesn’t seem right, give them a call. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
“Scammers like to seize on whatever is making headlines, particularly when it is an emotionally charged issue,” said Attorney General Carr. “Now they are taking advantage of people’s fears about contracting this virus to try to con them out of their money. Georgians should be extra cautious about unsolicited contacts or offers and report any suspicious activity to our office.”
The Attorney General’s Office has the authority to investigate scams. Under Georgia law, penalties for unfair or deceptive practices can range from $2,000 to $15,000 per violation. The state is offering the following tips to help you steer clear of scammers:
• Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up-to-date.
• Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia Department of Public Health, and World Health Organization.
• Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
• Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
• Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure Coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
• Be advised that scammers may overcharge for health-related products or their shipping costs, so always comparison shop.