At a time when certain products are scarce and misinformation is rampant, it’s not a huge surprise that there are some coronavirus scams going around on the internet.
We found a few of the most prevalent scams, and answered the questions you’re asking about them.
1. Is Starbucks offering $100 coupons to bring in business during Coronavirus closures?
The twitterverse passed around a fake coupon from the oh-so-timely-named, but now shut down website Socialdistancing.coupons recently — offering $100 Starbucks cards as an apology for stores closing their seating areas. Sites offering these fake deals are usually run by hackers who are only interested in collecting your personal data.
Tip: When in doubt, if you find misspellings or other not-so-professional indicators, that’s a good sign you’re getting scammed. Also $100 free from Starbucks is wayyy too good to be true. Good news is you can get Starbucks delivery for free.
2. Can parents request a free case of baby formula during the Coronavirus outbreak?
Baby products such as diapers, wipes, and formula have been hard to get as a result of panic-buying during the coronavirus outbreak. In the midst of all this, there’s been a fake message spread via social media telling people that they could get a free case of formula by calling the phone number on their formula’s packaging.
No phone number was listed, nor were any brands included in the message, so it was no surprise that a number of formula makers have come out to deny the rumor. At least it’s not another case of counterfeit formula coupons.
There is currently not a shortage of formula in the United States. Formula companies are working closely with their distributors to make sure their goods are kept in stock.
3. Did Costco issue a recall on contaminated toilet paper?
Throughout March, the world experienced a toilet paper shortage as customers rushed to stores to ensure they had enough to wait out the pandemic. Somebody created a joke recall notice from Costco, saying that Chinese-made TP had been contaminated with coronavirus. It too was full of misspellings — even the company’s name itself. Even more importantly, Costco’s recall page has no toilet paper listed.
The hoax comes on the heels of a fake news report about the discovery of COVID-19-contaminated toilet paper.
4. Is Amazon suspending all deliveries of nonessential items?
Answer: Not exactly.
Third-party vendors normally ship their products to Amazon shipment fulfillment centers, where Prime members can order them with Prime Two-Day Shipping. Nowadays, as Amazon has prioritized essential items, any products not in the baby, health and household, beauty and personal care, grocery, industrial and scientific, and pet supply categories aren’t welcome at fulfillment centers until at least April 5.
Does that mean you can’t buy a new Playstation on Amazon? Not at all; it just means that because it’s being shipped directly from third-party vendors instead of Amazon fulfillment centers, it’ll likely take longer to get to you. I found nail polish that would normally qualify for Two-Day Shipping that has an estimated delivery date of 3 weeks in the future. And hey, if you find the right products, you can get “paid” to be patient.
5. Is PG&E threatening electricity shutoffs if they don’t collect payments?
The Federal Communications Commission is warning consumers that scammers are making phone calls, claiming that California utility PG&E is about to shut off your electricity unless you send money. In reality, PG&E has a temporary moratorium on shutoffs in order to help its customers at this time.
Learn more about how companies are trying to help with our Unemployment Survival Guide.
6. Is McDonald’s free nationwide for all school-age children during Coronavirus quarantine?
There is some truth to the hype. Though information about free McDonald’s kids meals has made the rounds nationwide via social media, the fast-food giant is not offering a program to provide free meals to children. That said, certain locations are offering free meals to children unable to receive subsidized lunches due to school closures.
The decision to offer free kids meals is up to each franchise; make sure to call. But you know who is giving out free kids meals? Burger King.
7. Are companies selling testing supplies and treatments over the phone?
Scammers are also using robocalls selling and/or giving away fake at-home testing kits with many calls being directed at diabetics, and some are even offering cures and vaccines online. According to the FCC, the government is not supplying test kits via this method.
Instead, check out our list of 16 Free Online Coronavirus Screening Services.