Fraudsters have concocted a new COVID-related scam and this time they have businesses in their sights. According to reports, business owners are getting emails that appear to be about government-sponsored loan programs. But they’re really phishing messages trying to trick people into turning over personal information. The FTC has tips on how to spot the latest scam and how to defend your company’s good credit – and your good name – against other coronavirus cons targeting businesses.
Blog Posts Tagged with Coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you have clients who operate assisted living facilities or nursing homes, read on. The second round of Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) is in the works and the money is already being sent to people. But like last time, the payment is meant for the person, not the place where they live.
For people dealing with student loan debt – your employees, a family member, or maybe you – the CARES Act gives emergency grants to qualifying borrowers. But like other financial assistance programs, consumers need to know key details up front.
The FTC continues to monitor the marketplace to protect consumers from allegedly unsubstantiated COVID-19 claims. What are we seeing? Whether they’re selling tablets, treatments, or trinkets, companies are still making questionable representations about their products or services. The following 20 businesses are the latest to receive warning letters from the FTC about unsupported prevention or treatment claims, bringing the total to more than 330.
For years, the FTC has warned about imposters – scammers who masquerade as government officials, financial institutions, family members, etc., in an attempt to flimflam consumers and businesses. The FTC just filed a lawsuit alleging a variation on the imposter scheme. According to the complaint, the defendants set up dozens of look-alike websites to fool people into thinking they were ordering name-brand merchandise from established national companies.
If you saw an email from FTC Chairman Joseph Simons, it wasn’t. From him, that is. Scammers pretending to be him are emailing, though. They’re trying to trick you into turning over personal information, like your birth date and home address, which could help them scam you. So: if you get an email from the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission about getting money because of an inheritance or relief funds related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — or anything else — do not respond. Do not give out your personal information. But do hit “delete.”
What’s in a name? According to an FTC lawsuit filed in April, if you’re an outfit that uses the name “SBA Loan Program” – and you falsely claim to be an approved lender for the Small Business Administration’s coronavirus relief lending program – what’s in your name is deception. Under the terms of a settlement, that shady tactic stops right here, right now.
It’s National Small Business Week, a time set aside annually to salute American’s 30 million small businesses – companies that employ almost half of the country’s private sector workforce. The special focus this year is on the resilience and resolve of entrepreneurs and workers as they battle back against the impact of the pandemic.
Every day, the FTC is collecting data, watching the numbers, and spotting the trends. We’re also spreading the word about COVID-19-related scams that target consumers and businesses. Because the more you know about what’s happening, the easier it will be to protect yourself and others from these scams.
Coronavirus claims for zappers, virus-busting cards, sage, oregano, and bay leaves are among the representations called into question in the latest round of warning letters sent by FTC staff. With the total closing in on 300, the letters make it clear that companies need to clean up their claims about preventing or curing COVID-19. Here are the products and promises that have raised the most recent concerns.
Consumers and small businesses want personal protective equipment now. So when companies advertise those items online with promises of in-stock merchandise and fast shipping, those claims may be the difference between a big sale and no sale.
Small businesses are a critical part of the U.S. economy, providing opportunity and employment to consumers across the country. Unfortunately, the current health crisis has brought financial strain to small businesses and their ability to secure the financing they need to survive. So now more than ever, struggling businesses and their owners need protection from deceptive and unfair practices. And the FTC is working swiftly to provide it.
Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical and related company Golden Sunrise Pharmaceutical sell “plans of care” – regimens of health-related products – advertised to treat COVID-19 and other serious medical conditions. The FTC has gone to court in an effort to see the sun set on what it alleges are Golden Sunrise’s deceptive claims.
An online company advertising consumer goods, including personal protective equipment like masks and respirators, does business under the name SuperGoodDeals.com. But based on the illegal conduct alleged in a lawsuit just filed by the FTC, maybe it’s because the URL SuperDeceptivePractices.com was already taken.
In the face of COVID-19, many small businesses are looking for help from the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program. They may apply for PPP loans through Small Business Administration-authorized lenders and others the SBA has determined to be eligible. But there are concerns that some companies have falsely claimed an affiliation with the SBA or approved PPP lenders, or have represented untruthfully that people can get PPP or other SBA loans by applying on their sites.
During this pandemic, preserving public health has, rightly, been our nation’s top concern. But a lively debate has arisen during this time about whether that top priority necessarily means that other values – such as privacy – need to give way. If tracking people’s location will facilitate contact tracing and enforcement of shelter-in-place mandates, do we give governments and commercial partners carte blanche to track our whereabouts? Will enforcing longstanding privacy requirements impede the flow of life-saving public health information?
Saunas, IV vitamins, pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) devices, and licorice – yes, licorice – are among the subjects of the latest round of FTC staff warning letters sent to 30 companies promoting their products and services with COVID-19 prevention or treatment claims. Who got the latest letters and what representations raised concerns?
The beige envelope says IMPORTANT COVID-19 ECONOMIC STIMULUS DOCUMENT ENCLOSED. Inside – next to what appears to be the Great Seal of the United States – is the phrase COVID-19 STIMULUS (INDIVIDUAL) and a 16-digit serial number. The mailer also includes a check purporting to be from the “Stimulus Relief Program.” Is it official information affiliated with a COVID-19 economic stimulus program? We won’t leave you in suspense. It’s a car ad.
FTC staff sent the latest round of warning letters to 35 businesses alleged to have made unsubstantiated coronavirus prevention or treatment claims. What they sold diverges widely – IV vitamin treatments, products containing silver, patches purporting to block electromagnetic radiation, etc.
Elderberry, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, mushrooms, and horse milk. (Horse milk?) The FTC just sent 50 more warning letters to companies promoting products or services advertised to prevent or treat coronavirus. Here’s the latest list of who’s been warned, what they’re selling, and some of what they’re saying.