Beware Of Coronavirus-Related Scams, Warns Wisconsin Better Business Bureau
Pandemics and recessions are trying times, not only for people but for businesses. Some businesses rise to the challenge and serve customers in their time of need, while others see it as an opportunity for fraud and profit over people.
Consumers may need help to spot the difference and protect their wallets while protecting their health as well.
Jim Temmer is president and CEO of the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau. He's concerned about the rise in price gouging and scams during this crisis.
He says price gouging can be tricky to spot because essential items like toilet paper or alcohol wipes may legitimately increase due to higher demand, but that doesn't mean all increases are created equal.
"It might not be up to the individual to decide if it's price gouging or not, but if you think it is, by gosh, report it and let the authorities follow through," says Temmer.
Coronavirus-related scams are also popping up, from fakes texts claiming to be the IRS to fraudulent companies claiming to have masks or miracle cures.
While the Better Business Bureau works to identify these scams, Temmer says everyone can remember one thing to guard themselves: "If you don't initiate the conversation, if you don't ask for a quote from a business or you aren't asking for information, don't follow up on it."
He also says not to respond to these texts or answer these phone calls. That's because these scams are trying to find which phone numbers are live, so answering one can lead to your phone number being sold to countless other scammers.
If you are looking to support a business you love in your community, Temmer recommends shopping with them and leaving a five-star review online or sharing their business on social media. This can help good businesses reach new customers during this pandemic.
For businesses operating during the pandemic, Temmer says, "Think hard about how you're treating your consumers right now because they will remember that. When this is all over and done with, I hope everyone remembers the good businesses who treat them well and the businesses that price gouge and treat them poorly."
Scam and fraud reports can be filed with the Better Business Bureau here.
During this pandemic, WUWM's Bubbler Talk is focusing on the coronavirus and its impact on the Milwaukee area. If you have a question, submit it below.