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A Chinese health worker checks the temperature of a woman entering a subway station during the Chinese New Year and Spring Festival on January 25, 2020 in Beijing, China. The number of cases of a deadly new coronavirus rose to over 1300 in mainland China Saturday as health officials locked down the city of Wuhan earlier in the week in an effort to contain the spread of the pneumonia-like disease which medicals experts have been confirmed can be passed from human to human. In an unprecedented move, Chinese authorities put travel restrictions on the city of Wuhan and neighbouring cities affecting a population of over 35 million. The number of those who have died from the virus in China climbed to at least 41 on Saturday and cases have been reported in other countries including the United States, Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
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Con Artists Using Coronavirus Fears To Steal Money, Identities: What you Need to Know

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – From Utahns quarantined on cruise ships to thousands of new cases overnight in China, right now, much of the world is in crisis mode over the coronavirus COVID-19.

Many Utahns are looking for ways to help or maybe to protect themselves and their families, but thieves are cashing in on our fears. That has the consumer watchdogs at the Better Business Bureau sounding the alarm.

“Anytime there’s anything like this in the news – the coronavirus, Ebola – anything like that, we see people trying to take advantage,” said Britta Clark, director of communications for the Utah Better Business Bureau.

Britta Clark of the Utah Better Business Bureau explains how thieves follow the headlines in big virus outbreaks and other calamities.

One way crooks take advantage of that is by selling protective gear they claim will prevent, treat or even cure the virus – gear like bogus masks, drugs, vaccines — even mineral solutions.

“You want to make sure that you consider the source. Consider the science that we have available and double-check to make sure that what a product claims to do is actually capable of doing,” Clark said.

At this moment there is no cure for COVID-19, but there are plenty of myths.

Scientists said wearing surgical face masks do little to keep you from getting sick. The masks might weed out some of the larger respiratory droplets of the virus but not the smaller ones, because they fit too loose and don’t cover your eyes.

We found this rumor going around: Fluffy or Fido can contract the virus and then spread it to us. Not true, said the World Health Organization, so no need to re-home your pets.

But this is true: Whenever a major calamity strikes, bad guys set up fake charities to steal your money, identity or both. It’s no different for COVID-19, so, watch out for links, emails, and social media posts from obscure nonprofits.

Charity rating website Charity Navigator has vetted out several charitable groups with COVID-19 campaigns, including the CDC Foundation, American Red Cross and Heart to Heart International.

You can also scope out a charity’s background using the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance.