The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is alerting the public to the potential for fraud during the country’s battle against COVID-19. As part of the department’s Strategic Targeted Outreach Program, they remind online shoppers to be mindful of red flags.
According to DHS’s Homeland Security Investigations, thousands of COVID-19 related web domains have been identified as fraudulent. One basic way surfers can ensure they are getting accurate information and resources is to inspect the website’s URL. A secure browser connection begins with “https” only and while U.S. government websites end in “.gov”, other extensions may or may not signify authenticity, such as .org domain extensions.
Additional red flags may include:
- Unusual emails, texts or calls offering goods, services, loans or debt relief.
- Request for unusual payment methods such as prepaid debit cards, gift cards or cryptocurrency
- Calls or emails about stimulus payments. Government agencies do not call or email.
- Misspellings or information written in a foreign language.
- Third-party sale of pharmaceuticals.
When shopping online, consumers also should beware of price gouging and deals that seem too good to be true. Help protect your elderly friends and family members by warning them about potential scams.