BBB busier than ever with virus-related scams

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If there wasn’t enough confusion and uncertainty during the coronavirus outbreak, scammers are doing their part to add to the mix. 

The Better Business Bureau says scammers are playing off and trying to make money from a scared consumer base. 

“Whenever there is a big situation, scammers will modify the scams that are already out there to coincide with that. So, in this case it’s coronavirus and they really are taking advantage,” said Troy Baker with BBB. 

Medical supplies and the N95 face mask are in high demand, some hospitals don’t even have enough supplies. Scammers know this, and they know consumers want these masks and supplies too. 

“That’s what people want right now, those medical products. Scammers have put up websites they are offering these N-95 masks, where they are saying these $70 masks are on sale for $25 and they are in stock for you to get. That’s just not reasonable in the situation we are in,” Baker said. “Hospitals don’t even have the supplies. The idea that this consumer website has them, and they are going to sell it to you at a discount is just not reasonable.”

During a time of such uncertainty, Baker says scammers find a niche offering highly sought-after products that provide a feeling of some sort of protection or safety. 

“You know we are all in a situation where we are at home, we are kind of stuck with this executive order. Maybe you’re going to go to the grocery store sometime this week, but you don’t know what is floating out there with other people that are there,” Baker said. “I would love to have one of these masks that I know will protect me or have one for my wife to protect me and my family. But in truth, they ae just not available.”

The BBB says you will save time and money by doing a little groundwork before you purchase anything online. Here are some tips:

  • Do your homework and make a wise decision. 
  • Have some patience, don’t just jump on an offer because it sounds like a good deal.
  • Have some healthy skepticism.
  • Always check with the BBB first.

To help combat this spike in scams, the BBB asks consumers to report anything suspicious to both them and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office with pictures for proof. 

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“Please send photographs of what you’re seeing that evidence will help in the prosecution of these companies that are ripping people off,” Baker said. “We want that trustworthy marketplace. So, the best thing consumers can do is to do their homework and make a wise decision.”