Our Opinion: Be vigilant in protecting yourself against scams

Published 7:01 am Thursday, March 26, 2020

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In a time where many people are feeling uncertain as our nation seeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, others are ready to prey on people with scams of all types.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission are urging residents to be on alert for these scams that are created to take advantage of feelings of fear and isolation.

Scams could come through email, telephone, mail or even in-person.

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The FTC and Minnesota Department of Commerce have given the following tips to help keep scammers at bay:

• Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers.

• Fact-check information before passing on any messages.

• Know who you are buying from.

• Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out.

• Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. Doing so could download viruses onto your computer or device.

• Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or experts saying they have information about the virus. For up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the websites for the CDC and the World Health Organization.

• Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills or other methods to treat or cure COVID-19.

• Do your homework when it comes to donations through charities or crowdfunding sites. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, don’t do it.

Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and if you have any doubt about the sender or caller, you should hang up, delete the email or recycle the mail.

If you have questions or believe you may have been the victim of a scam or fraud, contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or 651-539-1600.