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How to avoid scams that play on coronavirus fears


In this Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, photo a woman types on a keyboard in New York. Cybersecurity researchers say a coordinated cyberespionage campaign has targeted U.N. relief agencies, the International Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations groups for the past 10 months. The California cybersecurity outfit Lookout says the campaign, which uses phishing to harvest passwords from mobile phones and computers, is still active. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

(WPRI) — Worries over the novel coronavirus may lead us into seeking out necessities — and scammers are more than ready to take your money while playing on those fears.

The Better Business Bureau has added a section on coronavirus-related schemes to its “Scam Tracker” online tool. The site, hosted through BBB.org, takes reports from victims who say they’ve been cheated and organizes them on a map.

At the BBB’s Scam Tracker, you can search for scams related to coronavirus by entering “COVID-19” in the “scam type” search box.

A glance through the reports Tuesday showed phishing email schemes (“click here to be marked SAFE from the coronavirus!”) and unsolicited texts or emails offering protective masks, in multiple cases leading to a sale website that only took credit card info but never delivering the merchandise.

The BBB says scam artists may pretend to be from legitimate government agencies — even posing as a Better Business Bureau employee — or established businesses in order to rip you off.

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