Hello. I’m Commander Mike Son of the Naperville Police Department.
I’d like to talk to you today about the many COVID-19 related scams we’re seeing pop up globally, and I’d like to give you some tips on how to spot these tricks and protect yourself.
In any time of emergency or crisis, most people will focus their energies on helping others and the greater good. But there are some in our society who will prey on people’s fears and goodwill. We’ve seen this happen after natural disasters and other emergencies. And we’re seeing it now in the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In recent weeks, law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. have documented telephone and email scams offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures and selling health insurance.
What Scammers Are Doing
Scammers are misrepresenting themselves as service professionals offering to clean and sanitize your home. They’re pretending to be bankers offering investment alternatives due to the market instability. They’re posing as legitimate charities seeking donations to help those in need and online sellers claiming to have in-demand products, like cleaning and medical supplies.
We’re also seeing phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the CDC and malicious websites and apps that appear to share virus-related information.
Now, I don’t tell you all of this to scare you or to prevent you from donating to worthy causes or to stop you from purchasing supplies you need. I tell you this to make you aware and to encourage you to treat every COVID-19 related email and phone call with necessary caution.
How to Protect Yourself
Here’s some advice for protecting yourself from scams:
- Don’t respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers or click on suspicious looking links in text messages.
- Never share your personal or financial information over email, text message or the phone.
- Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share information or make a payment immediately.
- Don’t believe anyone going door to door to sell or offer anything related to COVID-19.
- And remember that even if a phone number looks legitimate, numbers can be spoofed, and government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
If you do find yourself the victim of a scam, we ask that you report it through our online reporting system, available at naperville.il.us/onlinereporting. We are encouraging use of online reporting as much as possible during this COVID-19 response to keep our officers healthy by limiting unnecessary contact with the public.
Practicing Social Distancing
When in-person contact is necessary, Commander Mike Son and his fellow officers are practicing social distancing whenever possible. Please don’t be alarmed or offended if an officer doesn’t shake your hand, stands further away when speaking to you, or asks you to step outside.
Depending on the nature of the call for service, expect that an officer may also contact you by phone instead of responding to your location in person. All of these measures are meant to keep our staff healthy so they can continue to provide emergency services throughout the COVID-19 outbreak.
I hope that you and your families stay healthy and consider the tips I’ve provided today seriously to help protect you from a very real threat to our community.
For more updates from the Mayor and others please check out NCTV17 News Updates.
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