(The Center Square) — The Better Business Bureau is warning people to be wary of scams involving the spread of a novel coronavirus at the center of a global outbreak.
Steve Barnas, CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, warned that scammers are already finding ways to exploit the coronavirus outbreak.
“Scammers are always opportunists,” he said. “And coronavirus is in the headlines today, and continues to be in the headline, so the scammers will try to profit as quickly as possible from situations like this. It happens all the time.”
Barnas said that scammers will often pose as representatives of legitimate health organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but he reminded the public that government agencies rarely contact people by email and never ask for money.
“Consumers need to be vigilant whenever these things come up because there’s always going to be people out there trying to take advantage of the situation and steal your money,” he said.
“The No. 1 scam we’re seeing in this arena right now is bogus products to prevent or cure coronavirus itself. As we all know, there’s no cure or virus protection yet and you’re not going to hear about it in an advertisement. So do not buy any of those so-called, you know, drugs or vaccines or products that claim they will help you prevent or treat coronavirus.”
Barnas also said to be wary of opening emails supposedly from health agencies because that is almost never how they contact people.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is saying that there is a lot of fake emails out there claiming to be from (them), claiming to give up-to-date information and maybe some products to buy,” Barnas said. “If you receive these types of emails, make sure you go to the website directly and get that information directly from the source, not from somebody else who has this link to click here.”