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BBB warns about face mask cons preying on coronavirus fears

"Scammers love to take advantage of our fears, and the spread of a new disease like coronavirus is downright scary. "

Does news of the coronavirus have you searching for ways to protect yourself and your family out of precaution? The Better Business Bureau is sending out a warning after noticing an uptick in counterfeit goods being sold in stores and online on sites like Amazon that are taking advantage of people's fears.

Face masks and surgical masks, in particular, are in high demand in light of the virus -- and many legitimate vendors have seen their products sold out. 

The BBB said scammers are taking advantage of the high demand and low supply and are selling low-quality or counterfeit masks, or are just using it as a front to steal people's personal and credit card information. 

"Face masks may be the first phony product to crop up in the coronavirus outbreak, but it’s likely not the last. During the Ebola outbreak, the promotion of unapproved and fraudulent remedies was so prevalent that the US government advised consumers to steer clear of these drugs," the BBB said. "It’s likely that scammers will use the coronavirus as another chance to market products falsely claiming to cure the disease."

The BBB said, firstly, the Centers for Disease Control does not recommend face masks for the general public. If you are still considering them, though, the BBB said you should evaluate any claims and buy them from a seller you know and trust

Above all else, the BBB said you should always be careful with your personal information. Make sure the company is legitimate before handing over your name, address or credit card information.

"The FDA offers these tips to recognize fraudulent health products, and CDC has this FAQ about coronavirus. See BBB.org/ShoppingOnline for more online shopping tips."  

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