Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre is again warning residents to be cautious of scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These scams could come in the form of email, telephone calls, or even misinformation on social media.
“As this public health emergency intensifies, scammers are ramping up their efforts to take advantage of people,” said Sheriff Webre. “We urge everyone to be suspicious of anyone initiating contact regarding COVID-19 and selling products for prevention, protection, or recovery.”
Sheriff Webre cautions citizens to be wary of emails advertising any kind of financial relief, work-at-home schemes, unproven treatments for COVID-19, and healthcare plans. Con artists may also create fraudulent online donation accounts and investment scams.
Recently, a Lafourche Parish resident received a call from someone claiming to be from a local utility company demanding immediate payment in the form of a money order or gift card. This is an example of a common utility scam that may become more prevalent during this emergency. While there are numerous types of scams, they typically share common characteristics:
- You are told to send money to receive money or prizes.
- You are told to pay immediately via prepaid debit card, gift card, or electronic money order.
- A caller uses threatening, offensive, or vulgar language.
“No matter how sophisticated the scam or what type it is, we typically see one or more of these common signs,” said Sheriff Webre. “If you believe you are dealing with a scammer, hang up or delete the email immediately.”
Regarding robocalls, the Federal Trade Commission advises citizens to hang up, and do not press any numbers. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls instead. NEVER share your personal or financial information with an incoming caller or via email or text message.
To avoid phishing scams, type out a website address in your browser instead of clicking on a link in an email or text message. When shopping online, look for the “secure” icon in the address bar, or check that the website address begins with “https.” Consumers are encouraged to shop with companies you know and trust and avoid public Wi-Fi to shop from a mobile device.
To avoid scams on social media, only click links from trusted sources, and do not share posts from random sources or individuals. Remember that after you have shared a post, the person or page who posted can change the content without notification or warning.
To stay informed with local information on COVID-19, download the LPSO app, or go to www.LPSO.net/coronavirus.