(WETM) – The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about potential scams that could emerge amid the coronavirus outbreak around the world.
One scam the BBB is specifically warning people about is counterfeit masks that will not protect you from the virus.
“Some sites may take your money and send you low-quality or counterfeit masks. Others may never deliver anything all. In the worst cases, these sites are actually a way to steal your personal and credit card information, opening you up to identity theft.”
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams took to Twitter on Saturday urging people to stop buying face masks amid coronavirus panic, fearing a shortage could cause an even bigger medical threat.
The BBB says to keep the following tips in mind when looking for face masks or other ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus.
- Be savvy about product claims. While wearing a face mask may seem like an easy way to stop coronavirus from spreading, the Centers for Disease Control does not actually recommend it for the general public. Be sure to evaluate claims of any medical product before buying. Especially watch out for products claiming to offer a “miracle cure” for a range of ailments.
- Only buy from reputable stores and websites.The best way to avoid getting scammed is to buy them directly from a seller you know and trust. Check BBB.org to see what other consumers’ experiences have been.
- Be sure the online store has working contact info: If a company seems legitimate but you aren’t familiar with it, be extra careful with your personal information. Before offering up your name, address, and credit card information, make sure the company is legitimate. A real street address, a working customer service number, a positive BBB Business Profile… these are just a few of the things to be looking out for to determine if a company is legitimate.
- Check with your doctor before buying: If you’re tempted to buy an unproven health product or one with questionable claims, check with your doctor or other health care professional first.
You can check out the coronavirus tracking map here.