The Division of Consumer Protection Urges New Yorkers to be Aware of Novel Coronavirus Scams

Scammers Using Fake Novel Coronavirus Phishing Emails to Target Consumers Online

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) is alerting consumers about scammers taking advantage of fears surrounding the novel coronavirus. Scammers are using fake emails that contain harmful links designed to steal your personal information. While the New York State Department of Health, which is the medical authority on novel coronavirus in the State, has recently stated there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus anywhere in New York, people should still be on the lookout for scammers looking to take advantage of public fears surrounding this issue.

“Unscrupulous scammers are taking advantage of the news of the novel coronavirus by trying to lure people into unknowingly providing their personal information,” said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado. “Taking the necessary precaution to avoid coronavirus scams can help protect your hard-earned money and your identity.”

“While the novel coronavirus is infecting people throughout the world, in New York State we have had no confirmed cases,” said Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. “Unfortunately, the Internet is loaded with misinformation, but simple, proven precautions like washing your hands and staying indoors when you feel sick will help prevent the spread of infection all year.”

Scammers are using fake emails that claim to have information on novel coronavirus updates and include an interactive link where you can look up the numbers of cases near you and more. The links, however, are harmful and redirect to web pages that steal your information instead of providing you with important updates.

DCP provides the following tips to protect yourself from novel coronavirus scams, and similar scams that typically arise with a major global event:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
  • Be aware of emails coming from unknown senders. Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts claiming to have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus in New York State, visit the New York State Department of Health website.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the novel coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
  • Be aware of emails asking for donations. Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding Don’t let anyone rush you into donating. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

New York State is closely monitoring the novel coronavirus, which was detected in China. While there are thousands of cases there, no one has been diagnosed with this new coronavirus in New York State. For up to date information on the coronavirus, visit the New York State Department of Health website or call the Novel Coronavirus Hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection serves to educate, assist and empower the State’s consumers. For more consumer protection information, call the DCP Helpline at 800-697-1220, Monday through Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm or visit the DCP website at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. The Division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer