MACON, Ga. — At home, you and your family are probably keeping up with all the news about COVID-19, and, unfortunately, so are criminals. Experts are reminding you to keep your money and your identity safe as the virus spreads.

Kelvin Collins with the Better Business Bureau says any time there's a natural disaster or global emergency, the crooks come out to play, targeting senior citizens, creating fake websites, and taking advantage of the vulnerable.

"Scam artists follow the news, they know what's going on and they're ready to take advantage of that," says Collins. 

Over the last few weeks, Collins says he's seen price gouging online for products like medical masks and hand sanitizer. He's also heard bad news from some consumers who purchased cleaning products from unfamiliar retailers.

"We had a lot of things that we've seen from consumers where they paid the money and never received the product," says Collins. 

Collins says you should never give your credit card or Social Security numbers to unverified sources. 

He also says don't click on links from social media messages or text messages that might look a little sketchy. 

Something may look legitimate, but clicking the link could take you to a site where your information could be compromised. Collins says if you receive a strange message from a friend, call them to see if they sent it or if their account has been hacked.

"Your identity, right now, is worth a lot. As the economy continues to decline, your identity is going to be worth more and more on the black market, so you gotta be really proactive and protect yourself," says Collins. 

The Georgia Attorney General's office also offers these tips regarding COVID-19 scams: 

  • Hang up on robocalls and don't press any numbers, this could just lead to more robocalls.
  • Don't respond to texts or e-mails about checks from the government, those details are still being worked out in congress. 
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations, there are currently NO vaccines or pills to treat COVID-19.

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