Panic over the coronavirus could leave some people vulnerable to computer viruses.
According to the FTC, scammers have already started to send out emails, social media posts and text messages with fraudulent coronavirus offers. Con artists may offer vaccines – even though there is no vaccine for the novel coronavirus currently. They may set up fraudulent charities and request donations. Or they may simply try to get people to click on a link that will infect their computer with malware.
To protect yourself, practice good cybersecurity. Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know, and keep in mind that scammers may use spoofing to make it seem like they’re associated with the WHO, the CDC, or another authority. Also keep your computer updated, use anti-virus software and select strong passwords.
Beware of Price Gougers
Many people have responded to the threat of COVID-19 by stocking up on masks, hand sanitizer and other supplies. Unfortunately, this has led to shortages – and price gouging. CNBC reports that some products have seen price hikes of up to 582 percent from third-party sellers on sites like Amazon and eBay. Some sellers have also been making misleading and unproven claims about their products.
Amazon is trying crack down on sellers who are guilty of price gouging or making unverified claims regarding the coronavirus. However, new sellers may pop up, so buyers need to be cautious as well.
The 411 on COVID-19
Another way to protect yourself is to learn the truth about coronavirus. That way, you won’t fall for bogus offers of vaccines that don’t exist.
COVID-19 is the official name of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
The CDC says that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear between two days and two weeks after exposure. Some people experience mild symptoms, while others experience a severe illness. Common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. Right now, the best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is to use the same basic measures you should use to prevent the spread of other viruses:
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Clean your phone, keyboard, doorknobs and other high-touch areas routinely.
- Stay home if you are sick.
If you think you have COVID-19, you should contact your healthcare provider. You should try to call before going to a clinic or doctor’s office. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, avoid contact with other people and animals, and wear a mask if you have to be around other people.
If you have any plans to travel abroad, check with the CDC’s risk assessment first. Travel to and from certain countries may be restricted.
Update: Medicare has announced that it will cover lab tests and treatment for COVID-19, as well as the vaccine when it becomes available in the future. (There is no vaccine for COVID-19 at this time.) If you need to talk to your doctor but you’re worried about contagion, consider using a “virtual check-in.” See the Medicare page on coronavirus for more safety tips and coverage information.