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A crisis tends to bring out the best in people. Unfortunately, some see a crisis as an opportunity to take advantage of individuals who are vulnerable and afraid. Several scams have been targeting members of the public who are concerned about the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on their health and finances. 

Scams to Watch Out For
Scammers are targeting potential victims with robocalls and text messages. Those messages are designed to appear as though they come from a trusted source, such as a government agency or a neighbor. 

People have reported that they were offered fake coronavirus cures, health insurance, free home testing kits, relief funds from the government and services such as HVAC duct cleaning to help prevent the spread of the virus. Some text messages and phone calls target people who are concerned about their finances and offer work-from-home opportunities, small business loans, student loan assistance and debt consolidation.

In many cases, text messages ask for personal or financial information. For example, in one scam, people are told that they need to provide their bank account information to receive government stimulus payments. Some scammers claim to represent the World Health Organization and charities to solicit donations. Those are phishing messages that are sent to trick people into handing over their personal or financial data.

How to Protect Yourself
If you receive a text message or a phone call that asks for personal or financial information, don’t provide it. Be suspicious of unsolicited offers for products and services. If you receive a text message or phone call from a number that you don’t recognize, don’t respond. 

Be suspicious of a link in a text message and only click on it if you are sure of the source and you trust that person. Even if you receive a text that appears to be from someone you know, if the message seems out of character for that individual, it may be a scam. Contact the person directly and ask if he or she sent you the message with the link.

Always verify information by checking a reliable, independent source. If you receive a message that claims to be from a government agency or organization, go to the agency’s or organization’s website and look for relevant facts there. Research a charity before making a donation. Don’t use a link that was sent to you to donate. Call the charity or go to its website directly.

If you believe that you have been a victim of a scam related to COVID-19, contact your local police department. If you received a text message or voicemail, forward it to the authorities so they can investigate and work to protect other members of the public.