Do your due diligence to avoid fraudulent Covid-19 schemes

Dealing with the health concerns of the novel coronavirus is challenging on its own, but it's even more complicated when you consider the actions of bad actors who purvey on the fears of unsuspecting individuals.

Southeast Missourian reporter Ben Matthews reported recently, according to the FBI, conronavirus-related fraud schemes are increasing.

FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mark Dargis told the newspaper there are scammers who pretend to be from a government agency such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who send fraudulent emails seeking clicks that will install malware or ransomware on a device. This is used as a way to collect money for having the malware or ransomware removed.

To avoid these schemes, don't provide your name, date of birth, Social Security number or financial information over email or phone to those claiming to be from a government agency, Dargis said. This is not how government agencies request such information.

Be alert to phishing emails that claim to assist with economic stimulus checks and illegitimate vendors who claim to have cures or vaccines. Do your due diligence. Even simple search engine queries with the name of the website or product plus the word "scam" can provide some information, Dargis said.

It's sad that some individuals seek personal gain through fraudulent ways. But they're out there. Be careful when confronted.

For more information about cybercrimes and scams or to report such activity, visit the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.