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FTC warns about scammers lying about coronavirus outbreaks

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Posted at 5:53 PM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 17:53:19-05

(WTXL) — You need to be aware of a new warning about scammers trying to take advantage of people's fears of the deadly coronavirus.

Right now, more than 42,000 people worldwide have been infected with the death toll now surpassing 1,000 in China alone.

The Federal Trade Commission put out the warning saying the coronavirus outbreak could lead to scammers lying about potential illnesses in your area and even asking for your personal information.

The FTC has found some people are creating fake social media accounts, emails and text messages lying about people being infected and asking for donations to help with their medical bills.

You can prevent yourself from being taken advantage of by:

- Don't click on links from sources you don't know. They can download a virus onto your computer or device.
- Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or experts saying that have information about the virus.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for coronavirus.
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried also says there is a zero tolerance policy for scammers. She adds there have been no reports of any coronavirus scams in the state.

Consumers can call the Division of Consumer Services at 1-800-HELP-FLA (1-800-FL-AYUDA en Español), or use our online Check-A-Charity. You can also go to to file a complaint against potential scammers.