For most of us, a global pandemic is a time to pay attention to our health and our surroundings. To stay close to home and to spend time with family. But for some, a global pandemic is a time to try to trick others in a bid to make a quick profit.
Corona virus scams are on the uptick, and with weeks or months to go in our global response to the sars corona virus, it’s likely that new coronavirus scams will continue to appear regularly. While we are all watching and waiting for news of a coronavirus vaccine or at least good news in the media, we must also remain vigilant to avoid the many COVID-19 scams appearing in the marketplace.
- What is the coronavirus (COVID-19)?
- Is it curable?
- How to avoid coronavirus scams
- How to stay safe during the outbreak
1. What is Corona Virus (COVID - 19)?
By now we are all familiar with the corona respiratory virus. We know that it is a highly contagious virus that originated in Asia and has quickly traveled to every continent on the globe, excluding Antarctica. The CDC coronavirus updates have been focused on identifying symptoms of the sars coronavirus to help the medical staff and public identify what is the coronavirus and what is not, and also encourage individuals exhibiting symptoms to stay in quarantine and seek testing.
We know from the CDC that COVID-19 spreads easily through respiratory droplets and that the coronavirus incubation period can be up to fourteen days, making it easy to spread the disease unintentionally before you ever show symptoms. But what do you do if your coronavirus precautions fail? How long does coronavirus last?
According to the World Health Organization, the majority of cases, coronavirus sars lasts for about two weeks if you contract the virus. More severe cases can last up to six weeks. This is why the coronavirus isolation precautions are so important to prevent the illness from spreading and slow its spread so that those with severe cases can seek help without overwhelming the medical facilities.
2. Is Coronavirus Curable?
It’s natural to wonder is coronavirus curable? There is not currently a coronavirus treatment or coronavirus vaccine, which is why this virus spreads too easily and can be so dangerous. There is no single medication that can be used to cure the Corona Virus.
The World Health Organization has stated that there is no specific treatment for the coronavirus. Many researchers are looking for better treatment options or even a coronavirus vaccine, but to date, there is not a coronavirus patent issued for any type of cure. Instead, patients at home and medical facilities can only treat the symptoms of the disease. These treatment options include everything from Tylenol at home to ventilators in the hospital.
Unfortunately, this confusion over how to treat coronavirus and adequate coronavirus prevention is also the fuel for many coronavirus scams. Scammers are taking advantage of the public’s fear of coronavirus prevention and desire to find an even far-flung, untested coronavirus cure.
3. How to Avoid Coronavirus Scams
Those looking to make a quick buck, at the expense of others, are perpetuating many different types of coronavirus scams. Among the many covid-19 scams out there, you can find:
- individuals selling fake coronavirus mask and hand sanitizers;
- hand sanitizers that contain dangerous ingredients;
- sellers who take funds and fail to deliver products;
- individuals offering to shop for those in quarantine and stealing money or credit card information;
- fake and dangerous coronavirus “cures” or treatments;
- scammers pretending to be health officials;
- phone surveys or phone calls offering help that include exchanging personal identification information;
- travel and ticket companies refusing to refund canceled trips violating published policies.
In Great Britain, the Local Government Association warned the public about accepting help from just about anyone who is offering it through a cold call or even in person as these types of calls or contact is likely COVID-19 scams. That warning does not extend to friends or family, of course. The FTC in the United States has issued a similar warning about potential scams of coronavirus and how to avoid them.
Unfortunately, even with warnings coronavirus scammers are getting the better of some.
In one situation, a seventy-five-year-old man attempted to cancel or reschedule (review #1817119) a trip from Las Vegas to Manilla through ASAP Tickets. After cancelling his trip, he contacted the company to reschedule and was told he could not reschedule despite having ticket protection. He said it was “like they have vanished after they got my money.”
For months he has been calling customer service with the company to try and reschedule or cancel using the medical information the company has required, but he states, “I have even resigned my fate that I will be losing money with this scam of a company.”
Travel companies aren’t the only ones being accused of coronavirus scams. One customer left a ModernBeyond review (#1808995) on PissedConsumer explaining how Modern Beyond never delivered a completely different version of the coronavirus mask she ordered.
“I ordered 5 N95 masks from the websites for $120AUD. They said they were manufactured and sent from Australia. They sent me 5 paper masks that were not even sterile, from Korea. The customs declaration lists the value as $5USD. A total scam.”
She warns other would-be customers, “Avoid at all costs, youll either lose your money or have to spend time with PayPal dispute resolution. What a bunch of ***”
Fortunately, customers have other organization watching over their interests. The Lucas County Sheriff’s Office recently relayed a SCAM alert to followers and citizens in their area. According to the Facebook post, “People are texting or emailing claiming to bewith the CDC and offering to let people "reserve a vaccine for the COVID-19", credit card and/or social security number needed.”
The Sheriff’s Office reminds readers that “There is no vaccine reserve program and the CDC is not offering anything of the sort. Anyone receiving such a call should not under any circumstances give the caller any personal information or money.”
On March 22, 2020, the Justice Department published a briefing that they had “taken its first action in federal court to combat fraud related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” The action was filed in Austin and stated that “the operators of the website “coronavirusmedicalkit.com” are engaging in a wire fraud scheme seeking to profit from the confusion and widespread fear surrounding COVID-19.”
According to the filing, “information published on the website claimed to offer consumers access to World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine kits in exchange for a shipping charge of $4.95, which consumers would pay by entering their credit card information on the website.” However, there is no vaccine for the virus, and the United States government has blocked access to the website.
4. How to Stay Safe During the Corona Virus Outbreak
We are all working to stay safe from the Coronavirus Disease. 2019 brought the virus to the world’s attention and the pandemic is still spreading at the time of writing.
During these challenging times, it is important to follow all of the recommendations by governments, local and world health organizations and your local medical community. In addition to staying home, washing hands regularly and seeking medical support when you feel you need it, you should also stay vigilant to potential coronavirus scams.
There are always those willing to prey on the suffering of others. Stay mindful that these scammers are out there, and work hard to protect yourself and those who care about by following a few simple steps.
- Research the company you’re buying from. Read reviews and see what others are saying before blinding trusting or ordering products or services.
- Don’t trust any cold calls or unsolicited services.
- Don’t give out any personal information or financial information over the phone.
- Don’t give out personal information or financial information to strangers.
- If a product or offer seems suspect, read about it. You can always find information about reputable companies and products from third party sources.
- Stay calm and let common sense dictate your purchases. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you feel a company has been behaving unethically or taking advantage of customers through coronavirus scams, consider speaking up. This is a time when we all should be working together to help each other and slow the spread of a virus – not profit at the expense of others. If you’ve had a bad experience with a company, leave a review here on PissedConsumer.com to warn others, share common experiences and, hopefully, work with the company to find a solution to the problem.
By Rebecca Garland
Business and Education Expert
Rebecca Garland, M.S. is a business and education writer. She holds secondary teaching certifications in six areas, has a degree in Business, and earned a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. As an expert, Rebecca has been working with international clients since 2005.
*The company ratings on the PissedConsumer website are calculated using a mathematical algorithm that evaluates the information in the company’s profile. The algorithm parameters are: users’ rating, the number of resolved issues, the number of company responses and more. The PissedConsumer algorithm is also subject to change in the future.
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