CLEVELAND, Ohio — The COVID-19 crisis has brought out the best in people in many ways with the countless efforts underway to help others in need.
But it’s also brought out the worst.
Scammers prey on fear and emotion to find victims, and the current pandemic is no exception.
The Federal Trade Commission says scams come in the form of calls, texts, and emails.
Current tricks center on anything from false claims of COVID-19 cures and preventions, to imposters claiming to be contact tracers, the CDC, or employees at the Ohio Department of Health.
There are also scams related to stimulus checks and small business loans — all in an effort to gain personal and often financial information.
Across Ohio, the Federal Trade Commission has received over 6,000 reports of coronavirus-related fraud.
The FTC estimates there has been over $2.6 million of coronavirus-related fraud loss so far.
Here is one defense you can use to protect yourself:
"Take your time. The scammers — they could have PH.D.s in psychology. They are so good at knowing exactly what buttons to push, and they know that if they can rush consumers into taking an action, they're more likely to be successful in their scams. So, the best antidote to that is to take your time. Any legitimate operation will allow you to stop and to say you will get back to them before doing anything," said Jon Miller Steiger, Federal Trade Commission East Central Region director.
To date, the FTC has sent over 300 warning letters to companies who made suspicious claims and two operations have been sued in federal court for selling non-existent COVID-19 cures.
For more information on how to protect yourself or to learn how to report a scam, click here.