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Beware of snake oil COVID-19 ‘cures’

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Take note: colloidal silver products will not cure coronavirus. Nor will teas or essential oils.

So far, there are no treatments – a point two federal government agencies made in a crackdown earlier this month. The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to seven companies accusing them of marketing illegal, unapproved drugs and making deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims.

Among them was the Jim Bakker Show, which was warned about claims made about “Silver Solution.” The disgraced televangelist, for whom the show is named, has been promoting the gel, according to The Washington Post.

“Scientific evidence does not support the use of colloidal silver to treat any disease, and serious, irreversible side effects can result from its use,” the National Institutes of Health says on its website.

•The regional Better Business Bureau, based in Albuquerque, has posted online resources for consumers and businesses that outline the latest coronavirus scams and provide tips on dealing with this pandemic.

Tips for consumers can be found here: BBB.org/coronavirus. For businesses, go here: bbb.org/article/news-releases/21714-business-tips-how-to-navigate-the-coronavirus-crisis.

Also the local office is open and taking calls for those who have questions at 505-346-0110.

•Continuing on the coronavirus front, beware of calls that appear to come from local medical centers or health care providers that want to confirm “annual coverage,” according to Scam Detector.

This one plays on fears about having access to health care as the virus continues spreading through the U.S.

Callers ask people to make a needed payment that didn’t go through the first time, Scam Detector says. Or they might ask for confirmation of the person’s Medicare number and credit card details. Sometimes, the scammer will talk about a new mandatory prescription the person must get. It’s all a ruse to collect your personal information.

•Phishing scams appear to be all the rage right now, so be extra cautious. These efforts try to get recipients to click on attachments and emailed or texted links so they can install malware or get personal information.

Attackers are posing as officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization and offering information through these bogus attachments and links.

Some protective practices:

• Before clicking on a link, hover your mouse over it to see the full address. Doing so can show signs of fraud. For example, an “.ru” on the end means it’s coming from Russia.

• Watch for misspellings.

• If you get an email with great deals on hand sanitizer at Walmart, for example, open a window in your browser, find the retailer’s real web address and see how it compares to the email.

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-844-255-9210​.

 

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