Benefitting from fear of illness: COVID-19 scams

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(https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing)

As cases of COVID-19, or coronavirus, continue to develop across the globe, scammers are finding ways to make a profit from panic.

There are multiple types of scams that are being used to pressure individuals, with one that can relate to teenagers being app scams.

According to USA Today, some smartphone apps that claim to track the spread of coronavirus “can listen to you through your microphone, watch you through your smartphone camera and comb through your messages.” 

With the fear of getting sick, people have been more likely to buy medical supplies and protective gear, such as masks and hand soap. Therefore, some scammers have resorted to emailing consumers links to buy these supplies.

However, when the consumer buys masks or sanitizer from this link, according to Psychology Today, scammers will use the consumer’s credit card information to buy other things without the individual’s permission or knowledge.

Another scam to be aware of is any claims of COVID-19 treatments or vaccines. If a claimed treatment or vaccine has not been widely known or used, it is likely a scam.

Related to this scam, there are multiple unverified coronavirus test sites that have acted in the United States, with two in Louisville, according to Courier Journal.

Courier Journal reported, “Two medical marketing companies peddling coronavirus tests — including one that promises results in 24 hours — charged individuals who exhibited symptoms up to $250 per test.”

These two companies quickly left the area after being questioned, however, further suggesting that they were not official testing sites.

According to TIME Magazine, coronavirus tests are supposed to be free thanks to most insurance plans, but there are limitations.

TIME explained, “if your visit does not result in a COVID-19 test, if you get tested somewhere that is not in your insurance plan’s network, or if you’re treated in any way besides just getting a test, you could end up with a bill.”

Despite this, it is still important to get tested if you have any symptoms of the coronavirus, including fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

According to coronavirus.utah.gov, “There are many options for testing in Utah, including drive-thru locations operated by Intermountain Healthcare, the University of Utah Health, Steward Health Care, and TestUtah.” 

Fortunately, there are some ways to avoid being scammed in these trying times. For one, it is important to research any companies or charities that want your business.

Also, make sure to get testing and information from verified sources, such as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.