Reports of coronavirus-related scams flood into Better Business Bureau

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- As the coronavirus continues to spread, protection needs to be at the forefront and not only from the virus but from scammers looking to take advantage. 

“These are nightmares for anyone, so we just want to be very cautious,” said Alma Galvan with the Better Business Bureau of Northeast California. 

Galvan, who works as the marketing and communications manager, says reports of COVID-19 scams are flooding into the BBB. Fake websites offering out-of-stock supplies, like hand sanitizer and N95 masks, are among the most common scams reported. 

“All they care about is your personal contact information,” Galvan told FOX40. “You’re also providing them access to your banking information, which is, necessarily, what they’re after at this point is just a way to tap into your bank account.”

To ensure you aren’t scammed, Galvan recommends verifying any company you plan to buy from through the BBB’s website. Some other recommendations are looking for contact information in order to get in touch with the sellers and paying with a credit card since it will allow you to dispute the charges later. 

Although these recommendations will help you online, scammers are also targeting people in person.

“We’ve also seen people that go and offer their services to a senior citizen or to someone that's not able to go to the store and buy groceries or other needs,” said Galvan. 

Instead of helping, they’re looking to steal cash or credit card information. 

“Make sure it’s someone that you trust,” advised Galvan. 

One option is to order and pay for groceries online so you don’t have to exchange any cash or personal information with the people volunteering to help you. 

And it’s not only those who need help that are getting scammed. Galvan says those who are looking to help are also getting scammed. 

“You have to make sure that whoever you plan to give money to is really doing something with it that’s charitable,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “And if you can’t be sure, then hold off.”

Becerra says scams using GoFundMe pages are popping up left and right. Some claim to go toward finding a vaccine and others are raising money for fake victims of the virus. 

“Please report. The only way we can stop this type of hustler activity that is against the law is when people come forward and provide us with the facts,” said Becerra. 

If you’ve fallen victim to a scam, you can report it to the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and the attorney general’s office

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