SAN ANTONIO – The new coronavirus outbreak is giving scammers a chance to take advantage of consumers by setting up websites and using social media to sell fake treatment products, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns.
Recently, the FTC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said they sent joint letters to seven companies that were claiming their products could treat COVID-19.
The FTC and FDA said they were the first warning letters issued by the agencies alleging unapproved or unsupported claims that products can treat or prevent the coronavirus.
The FTC has the following tips for consumers to keep scammers away:
- Do not click on links from sources you don’t know, as this could lead you to download a virus onto your device. Keep your anti-virus software up to date.
- Watch for emails from users claiming to be for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organization or experts who say they have information about the virus. You can get the most up-to-date information from the CDC’s website or the World Health Organization’s website. KSAT also has a page dedicated to the most recent coronavirus information.
- Ignore online offers for vaccines. The FDA said there are currently no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products available to treat or prevent the virus.
- When it comes to donating to charities or crowdfunding, not only related to the new coronavirus but also with anything in general, do your research. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, do not donate.
- With lots of uncertainty in the stock market, be on alert for any phony investment opportunities. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission says fraudsters often use the latest news developments to lure investors into scams, which includes online promotions claiming that products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect or cure COVID-19.
If you would like to report any scams, visit ftc.gov/complaint.
COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.
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