(Over the last few weeks, there’s been drastic changes to most of our lives. One thing that’s still (unfortunately) around? Phishing emails and scams. Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, launching a new wave of coronavirus-related tricks to cheat people out of their money and personal information. 

The U.S. PIRG Education Fund recently released information about avoiding consumer scams during the coronavirus crisis. Here are some of the biggest scams that you should be avoiding:

1.  Fake Stimulus Checks. 

 (Source: WISH-TV 8

If you receive a fake check, do not send back any money or personal information.

The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers to be cautious about fake check scams. For example:

  • The IRS will not send you an overpayment and ask you to send back money to cover this difference. 
  • The IRS will not call, text, or email you - don’t give away personal information! 
  • The IRS will not call it a “stimulus” check, as the official term is "economic impact payment."

These are just three examples; make sure you know other common stimulus check scams.

2. Fake COVID-19 Map.

(Source: Reason Cyber Security

Do not click on maps.

This scam displays a map of where coronavirus has hit throughout the world. It purports to come from Johns Hopkins University, but clicking on this downloads malware that steals your credentials.

3. Fake Emails from the CDC. 

(Source: Norton Security)

For this scam and any other phishing emails, you should delete the email immediately - do not respond to it nor click on any attachments/links. 

"You are immediately advised to go through the cases above for safety hazard," they claim. But the link can infect computers with malicious software that records every keystroke and sends it to the attackers, a tactic that allows them to monitor their victims' every move online.

4. Fake Emails from your Workplace. 

(Source: Norton Security)

One phishing email targets work emails and appears to come from individuals’ employers. It begins, “All, Due to the coronavirus outbreak, [company name] is actively taking safety precautions by instituting a Communicable Disease Management Policy.” 

If you click on the fake company policy, you’ll download malicious software.

5. Fake Health Advice 

(Source: Norton Security)

These emails claim to offer health advice and information on how to stay safe from coronavirus. They might also claim that you have been exposed to the virus and include instructions to click links or download files to get tested.

6. Fake Home Testing Kits and Other Products

(Source: Forbes)

As always, you should delete any texts or email immediately. Do not respond to them nor click on any attachments/links. 

New claims are popping up everywhere selling home testing kits for the coronavirus and other "protective" items. These products haven't been authorized by the FDA to test for or protect against the coronavirus and could fail to work properly or simply not arrive at all.

These are six of the biggest schemes out there, but be sure to check out more information about coronavirus-related scams. The U.S. PIRG Education Fund also has a full list of COVID-19 consumer tips to keep you and your loved ones safe during this crisis.