6 On Your Side: Protecting yourself from coronavirus scams


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A warning Monday from the Better Business Bureau about the coronavirus outbreak to beware of scams; they range from cures to facemasks that can keep your loved ones healthy.

WATE 6 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Don Dare checked over some of these scams with the local BBB.

False claims repeated on social media sites are driving many of these scams.

Federal and local health officials, as well as government authorities, are the source for up-to-date information on the coronavirus. For those who surf the internet looking for additional information, there are many false claims out there.

The BBB has recorded quite a few scams dealing with COVID-19.

“So one of them is the facemask, it can be a con.”

Tony Binkley – BBB President

At the local bureau, Tony Binkley says, with real government-approved face masks being produced at sites across America, the bureau is receiving complaints about sites that offer masks, but customers receive no product.

“That’s what scammers do. Let’s call them what they are, they’re just thieves. They’re trying to get to your money. They’re taking advantage of the situation trying to act on your fears so they can make you make an impulse decision.
Some of the masks are effective for stopping this, but some aren’t. What we are seeing is some people are ordering masks online and there is no mask that exists.”

Tony Binkley

Binkley says that the CDC or the World Health Organization is not going to contact you by email or social media and try to get anything out of you or try to sell you anything.

The BBB offers these tips to avoid being conned:

  • Be savvy about product claims
  • Only buy from reputable stores and websites
  • Be as specific about transactions as possible
  • Be wary of fake cures or phony prevention measures
  • If the cost of a product has spiked, don’t buy it

“In price gouging, it is supply and demand. Where there is a high demand and supplies are running low as we see in the grocery stores. So, people start jacking prices up. They may not even by real. The mask may not even exist, but they’re getting you to give money online and nothing is going to come. In all these situations just slow down, take your time, and verify before you send any money to anybody.”

Tony Binkley

In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, just about all mass public gatherings have been canceled or delayed: concerts, theater productions, and big conventions over the next few weeks have been suspended.

If you purchased a ticket in advance, visit the venue’s website, contact the business and ask about their refund policy.

As this pandemic unfolds, be patient about specific answers.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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