Staying Safe From Online Scammers During Pandemic

Posted at 3:34 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 21:34:17-04

During this quarantine, people are spending more time on their phones and computers purchasing everything online making it easier for cybercriminals to target unsuspected victims. For families struggling to make ends meet, this could be devastating. Today, in our Rebound South Florida segment, we speak with an abuse and financial exploitation expert on tips that can protect you from being scammed.

Law enforcement agencies are warning South Floridians about scam artists trying to steal your money. Cybercriminals are everywhere. According to the Better Business Bureau, social media use increased by 40% in the last month alone.

“Scams in general are not new. They just seem more prevalent when we have a crisis situation because people are desperate for items, things, or money,” said Sarah.

Sarah Barker works for Coast to Coast Legal aid. She says the bottom line is to be on the lookout for scams and never give out personal or financial information to solicitors.

“Be weary of unsolicited contact by email, by text, or even door to door. Someone claiming to be a government entity contacting you for your social security number or bank account information. If they’re asking you to transfer money to them by wiring, asking you to buy gift cards, or cash in a form of payment,” said Sarah.

The BBB warns consumers of three Coronavirus related scams including, the selling of fake medical grade surgical masks, odd text messages asking to confirm your bank information, and phony websites.

“Weeks went by, I never got anything. I tried to reach out to them, phone number was dead, website stopped working,” said Christian.

Christian Guzman was trying to buy an outdoor cabinet for his balcony.

“I saw a price that seemed too good to be true. I purchased it, I gave my credit card information, all good to go, and apparently too good to be true was too good to be true,” said Christian.

But he never got it. He lost $70 to a cybercriminal, a small purchase at the time that could've been much bigger.

“It wasn’t anything major, but it could’ve easily been one of the bigger purchases I’ve been doing recently. It could’ve really hurt if I didn’t see that money come back,” said Christian.

For this exact reason, Sarah recommends you do your research and be extra careful, especially during the pandemic, when purchasing items online.

“You certainly want to make sure that whatever business you’re providing payment to, that you do some time of investigation that they are really legitimate and that you’re getting the product you’re promised,” said Sarah.

To reach Sarah or for more tips on how to avoid getting scammed, click here.