CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: Scammers using coronavirus as bait

Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 6:36 PM CST
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State health officials and consumer experts are issuing a warning about the coronavirus: Protect yourself from scams.

Scammers use trending topics to lure people. This week, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is alerting us to fake emails using the coronavirus as bait.

"I've recently been receiving reports that some of our local health departments have heard of people receiving information about the coronavirus that looks official, but in fact it has turned out to be phishing," State Health Officer and DHS administrator Jeanne Ayers warned.

The emails are intended to look like they're coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trying to get you to click on a link or provide personal information.

If you look closely at the source, it comes from ""

Government websites always end in ".gov" -- not ".org" or ".com" or other suffixes.

DHS also says it only contacts people through email on rare occasions.

"It is possible that a patient who is being monitored as someone who is under investigation, or a contact who is already working with a local health department, might be contacted via email for a follow-up by that local health department. But we at the state health department would not be sending out requests for information to the public," DHS Communicable Diseases Epidemiology Section Chief Traci DeSalvo explained.

What should you do?

Be alert to emails or social media posts promoting coronavirus prevention tips or reporting cases near you.

Beware of websites selling bogus products, unproven treatments or vaccines.

Don't click on suspicious links. They could download a real virus -- a digital one -- to your computer or device.

Be careful with solicitations for donations to victims. You can see if a charity is legit at


Also be careful with online investment opportunities and social media buzz claiming that stock is soaring for publicly-traded companies with a prevention or cure.

If you are looking for health resources, rely on legitimate government websites. Again, they all end in ".gov".