LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX18) — As businesses open up, scammers are keeping their feet on the gas.
"The scams related to coronavirus have not let up, " said Heather Clary of the Better Business Bureau serving central and eastern Kentucky.
Americans have reported losses of nearly $40 million in relation to COVID-19 scams, and Kentucky is not immune. So, here are some tips to protect yourself, specifically if you are shopping for any of that coveted PPE like masks or hand sanitizer.
TIP ONE: If buying online, pinpoint where the company is located, and make sure it is in the US.
Clary explained, "People continue to search for hard to get items and they're going to the internet, that's your main go-to, and the problem lies in that you're ordering masks, hand sanitizers, all sorts of things like that from websites where they don't know where the company is located."
Clary said if the company is based overseas and they scam you, there is a good chance you will lose your money and you will never see the product you ordered.
TIP TWO: Avoid shopping on links via social media sites.
As with sites overseas, Clary said to make absolutely sure there is a way to contact the company other than an email address, "That's a red flag because if they're not answering your email you're not going to hear from them."
TIP THREE: Check out the business on BBB.org.
"Check out what sort of BBB profile it has, does it have a good customer experience record? If the only way they're going to let you pay is PayPal or wiring money, that's a red flag, " Clary explained.
Not as common but still being reported are scams involving at-home COVID-19 tests or even stimulus payment scams. Clary said that involves situations where people have received fraudulent links to checks on their phones or social media.
TIP FOUR: Stick to credible, known websites for your COVID-19 information.
Clary said, "The CDC, the FDA, Kentucky's COVID-19 website, or your own medical provider."
TIP FIVE: When it comes to coronavirus scams, help the BBB help others, and report the scams to BBB.org/scamtracker.
"Don't believe everything you see on the internet, " Clary warned. "Just because it looks legit doesn't mean it is, and if you lose your money to someone overseas you may not get it back."
To learn more about COVID-19 related scams or to report a scam visit https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/