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I-Team: Scams during COVID

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s Scam Week on Eyewitness News. The I-Team is focusing on a number of common scams and how to protect yourself.

Investigators say the con artists are very slick and will use any trick in the book to try and steal your money, including fears and concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Investigators say a typical call from a scammer includes the message: “If you want to receive a free testing kit delivered overnight to your home, press One.”

“They live off that fear. They beg for that trust that people have where their money is going is helping people. So it makes them vulnerable. This is were an individual steps in to take advantage of it,” PSP Trooper David Peters said.

Detectives say the most common COVID scams involve testing and vaccinations. Financial institutions around the country are warning consumers to beware of COVID-19 scams.

“We’ve seen a 300 to 400 percent increase in phishing attempts by these scammers,” American Bankers Association Senior V.P. of Risk and Cyberspace Policy Paul Benda said.

Phishing is method of trying to trick a person into revealing their personal information.

“These guys are really just trying to lure you into clicking on these links or providing confidential information so they can access your accounts,” Benda said.

The United States Department of Justice says the top COVID-19 scams include:

  • Treatment scams: scammers selling fake cures and vaccines.
  • Price gouging: businesses selling COVID-19 safety items at significantly higher prices than in non-emergency settings.
  • Phishing scams: trying to obtain your personal information.

The Department of Justice advices people to:

  • Independently verify identity or any company, charity or individual that contacts you regarding COVID-19.
  • Don’t click on links or emails from unknown or unverified sources. It could download a virus into your computer or device.
  • Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software is up to date.

“It’s probably the worst types of scams I’ve seen. These scammers are heartless and relentless,” Better Business Bureau of Chicago president/CEO Steve Bernas said.

Investigators say COVID-19 scammers have ripped off the public of more than $30 billion to phone scams over the past year.

Coming up Thursday night at 11, the I-Team will put the spotlight on steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

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