L.A. County alerts residents of increasing COVID-19 scams and fraudulent websites

A person is seen typing on a computer. (Credit: Getty Images)

A person is seen typing on a computer. (Credit: Getty Images)

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As L.A. County continues to follow the “safer at home” public order in an effort to curb spread of the novel coronavirus, officials warned residents Tuesday of several fraud schemes designed to prey on the vulnerable in the midst of the public health crisis.

“Malicious actors can prey upon those that are distracted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and use it to their advantage,” Los Angeles County Chief Information Officer William Kehoe said in a news release. “The public needs to be mindful and careful, and avoid websites, phishing emails, and scams that engage people through false information about the health crisis, and steal personal user information and data.”

By clicking on fraudulent links, hackers can deliver malware and gain access to passwords, browsing information, credit card numbers and other personal information, Kehoe warned.

Before clicking on coronavirus tracking and mapping links, cybersecurity experts recommend hovering over the link to verify the URL.

Online hackers may also send users emails from fraudulent accounts impersonating official websites and doctors, or offering medical supplies and services, county officials said.

Scammers are even targeting people by going door-to-door asking for donations via cash, Bitcoin or Paypal.

“The County of Los Angeles reminds residents that they are not required to open their door, and encourages everyone to not feel intimidated by a false sense of urgency to answer door-to-door solicitations,” officials said.

The county urged residents to abide by the following tips:

  • Avoid online advertising offers related to COVID-19 
  • Decline door-to-door solicitations claiming COVID-19 fundraising 
  • Do not click on emails and attachments that you do not recognize
  • Visit trusted websites for COVID-19 related information

Trusted COVID-19 information can be found at the county’s website, the county’s public health site, the California Department of Public Health website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site and on the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Global Map.

If you believe you have been scammed, the county urges you to contact your bank immediately and report the information to local law enforcement.

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