4 Common COVID-19 Pandemic Scams to Avoid

May 22, 2020 10:45 AM ET

In the wake of COVID-19, we have seen thousands of Americans band together to perform altruistic acts of selflessness to help those in need. Unfortunately, the pandemic has also brought with it quite a few negative outcomes. Besides our health worries, one additional adverse impact has been the occurrence of scams related to the pandemic, and unfortunately, they are on the rise. From January 1 through April 15, the Federal Trade Commission received 18,235 reports related to COVID-19, and people reported losing $13.44 million dollars to fraud.

It’s easier to avoid becoming the target of a scam when you know what to be on the lookout for. The following are some of the common ways that scammers have been trying to deceive the public regarding COVID-19. If any of the following happens to you, do not engage with the request, and report it to the FTC.

Potential Scam: Your Travel and Vacation Plans

Scams relating to travel and vacations are among the top complaint categories that the FTC has been receiving. As many Americans are finding that their travel insurance for previously booked trips doesn’t cover, or has limited benefits when it comes to the coronavirus—or perhaps they skipped the travel insurance altogether—this is an area that’s particularly ripe with opportunity for scammers.

What You Should Know

Never believe any emails, calls or texts that come to you relating to travel insurance. If you have a question about a particular trip that you purchased insurance for, call your travel insurance company yourself to hammer out the details. Especially if someone reaches out about travel insurance that covers COVID-19 problems, specifically, or “cancel for any reason” coverage, that should be a red flag that the call is likely a scam. Although cancel for any reason coverage is a real option that most travel insurance companies offer, there are very specific limitations on how it can be used, and it isn’t usually offered as its own policy.

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