Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today warned Michigan residents to watch for scams related to the coronavirus disease 2019. These scams include websites selling fake products, and fabricated emails, texts and social media posts used to steal money and personal information.
The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips along with phony information about cases in residents’ neighborhoods. They may also ask for donations to victims, provide advice on unproven treatments or contain damaging attachments.
“While the threat of coronavirus disease 2019 is real, there have been no confirmed cases in Michigan,” said Nessel. “Do NOT fall for these scams. In fact, this is the perfect example of criminals preying on people’s fears. Don’t give a single piece of personal information to anyone reaching out to you regarding coronavirus.”
The Federal Trade Commission has offered the following tips to help you avoid these scammers:
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know;
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus;
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations; and
- Be alert to “investment opportunities.”
“While the current risk of COVID-19 in the United States is low, we are working with our local and federal partners to make sure our public health system is prepared,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “The best way Michiganders can stay healthy is to wash their hands often with soap and water, cover their coughs and sneezes, stay away from people who are sick and stay home if they are not feeling well. For accurate, up-to-date information, visit the CDC’s website or the MDHHS’ webpage.”
Regardless of who they claim to be, people who text or email asking for personal or financial information should be treated as potential thieves who may be trying to steal someone’s identity. Resist their believable scenarios and confirm the identity of a contact by independently speaking with the identified source. Do NOT provide any personal information to people who call or email seeking it. Remember, identity thieves are crafty, and they may attempt to contact people numerous times using various aliases.
For more information and tips, please read this Consumer Alert from the FTC.
Consumers are encouraged to file consumer complaints online with the Michigan Department of Attorney General or call 877-765-8388.