PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Coronavirus news and resources are changing on a regular basis and that opens a door for scammers trying to get your personal information.
This week, Arizona state officials launched a new task force aimed at combating fraud related to the coronavirus crisis. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey announced the task force on Wednesday. It's a joint effort among federal, state and local officials to protect Arizonans from con artists who are targeting folks who might be feeling vulnerable right now.
The "COVID-19 Fraud Task Force" will bring together a dozen partners to combine resources and information to better investigate and prosecute those who are trying to profit from the current health crisis.
"We've even seen people saying they're from the CDC and they need to inspect their house. Please do not let anyone in your house you do not know."
TruWest Credit Union has 10 tips to protect yourself from scams during the coronavirus crisis:
1. Be cautious when reviewing emails, especially those related to COVID-19. Do not click links or open attachments in an email unless you are expecting the email and/or you are certain as to the validity of the email and the sender.
2. Keep all your computer programs updated, especially the computer’s anti-virus/anti-malware software and operating system (i.e. Windows, Mac OSX, etc.).
3. Beware of advertisements for COVID-19 cures, treatments or vaccines. If a random Internet site has a treatment or cure that isn’t already widely known and in use to help current patients, it’s probably too good to be true. Always contact and ask a healthcare professional.
4. Beware of charity scams. Always check with services such as Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, GuideStar or the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance to research a charity before making a donation.
5. Beware of calls, emails or texts from anyone claiming to be the IRS or any other government entity wanting to discuss your tax return or stimulus check. The IRS will always contact you through standard postal mail.
6. Avoid consuming and sharing misinformation. Always consult reputable sources for updates about COVID-19, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Arizona Department of Health Services. Only share information on social media, or other channels, from reputable sources.
7. Beware of get-rich-quick schemes or questionable investment opportunities related to COVID-19. Scammers are capitalizing on the desperate search for work by those who may have lost their jobs and are unemployed.
8. Beware of in-person or online “clinics” selling COVID-19 testing services. Contact your healthcare provider if you suspect you have the illness. If your symptoms are critical, go to the closest emergency room or dial 911.
9. Employ unique, strong passwords for every critical online account, such as those for banking, financial investments and healthcare. Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords in a secure manner.
10. Practice smart online shopping. Never use a debit card for online transactions as scammers may be able to empty your bank account before you have a chance to dispute the charges. Only shop with reputable businesses employing the proper security on their website (beginning with “https”). Browse directly on the online shopping site instead of clicking links that may have been manipulated to send you to a potentially fraudulent site.