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COVID-19 Sheds Light on Scammers

“COVID-19 Sheds Light on….” That is the starting line of so many news articles these days. They relate to such a wide varieties of subjects from our food system to our hospitality industry. In the coming weeks, we will see the toll this situation has taken on our health care industry, our small businesses and tourism.

As a nation, we have learned a lot over the past several weeks. Covid-19 has shed light on our resilience and ingenuity, and our abilities to adapt. Many of us are working and learning in ways we had not before. We have also learned that stress can be debilitating, uncertainty makes us anxious, and we crave human interactions. We have seen vulnerabilities in what we thought were solid systems. Our strengths and weaknesses exposed.

One thing COVID-19 shed even more light on is that people will take advantage of others in times of crisis. We Floridians are all too familiar with the contractor swindles after hurricanes cause damage. We are reminded repeatedly of frauds that target the elderly. Our workplaces and schools might provide training to recognize phishing attempts like bogus emails linked to bogus websites. So, it isn’t that surprising that scams related to the coronavirus pandemic are popping up.

A friend reached out last weekend to ask advice about a possible fraud. His relative called a number she was instructed to call in an email from a video streaming service. There was a problem with her account. The voice on the line told her to send two $500 gift cards to them. This was because she wasn’t able to provide her bank account information like they needed to fix the problem. She finally became suspicious and called my friend. They reported the call to the county Sheriff’s non-emergency phone number. They reported it to the Federal Trade Commission Fraud division. Then just in case, they changed some of her passwords. Finally, they reported it to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  Our state works with other agencies to shut these bad operators down.

Thanks to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services (FDACS), there is a one-stop website to provide tips on avoiding these scams.  Click here to go there. This quick read has lots of good information. In fact, it is one issue of a monthly newsletter provided to you by FDACS – your tax dollars at work, so don’t miss out! Click the link on the site to subscribe and then you won’t miss a thing!