CROMWELL, Conn.—COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is affecting people, businesses and communities around the world. Better Business Bureau reminds everyone to remain vigilant to avoid scams related to the virus, use common sense precautions when traveling and find reliable sources to stay informed about what to do as the virus spreads.
BBB Serving Connecticut understands that consumers have many questions when it comes to the impact of COVID-19 to their travel plans, event cancellations, possible price gouging and where to donate. We urge consumers to follow these current tips when trying to navigate through this challenging time and to help prevent scammers from profiting off of panic.
- Check with airlines and cruise operators about previously planned trips. As the number of coronavirus cases rises, travel to and from some destinations, such as China, Iran and most of Europe, has been restricted. But even if your destination isn’t on that list, you may still be hesitant to make the trip. Check directly with the company you made travel arrangements with. Although you may not get a full refund for your trip, many travel companies are willing to waive rebooking fees and change trip dates.
- Think twice before buying a bargain ticket. As the coronavirus restricts travel for many, flight and cruise deals are popping up everywhere. If you want to take advantage of these deals, keep in mind that, realistically, any destination could become compromised as the virus continues to spread and you may need to cancel or reschedule your travel plans. This could result in your paying additional fees and make your trip less of a bargain.
- Be savvy about product claims. While wearing a face mask may seem like an easy way to stop coronavirus from spreading, the Centers for Disease Control does not actually recommend it for the general public. Be sure to evaluate claims of any medical product before buying. Especially watch out for products claiming to offer a “miracle cure” for a range of ailments.
- Only buy from reputable stores and websites. The best way to avoid getting scammed is to buy them directly from a seller you know and trust. Check BBB.org to see what other consumers’ experiences have been
- Review the cancellation policy. Visit the venue’s website or contact the business. Given the uncertainty of this situation, each vendor or host is more than likely have their own policy in handling refunds, exchanges or may offer a rescheduling option.
- Stay home if you are sick. If you become ill or are not comfortable attending an event that is not canceled, stay home. Contact the box office and explain the situation.
- It is unfair and illegal. State price-gouging laws, which automatically go into effect during a declared state of emergency, prevent businesses from over-charging customers who are preparing to take preventative measures from getting sick.
- Gather as much information as possible. Be as specific about the transaction as possible, including the name and address of the business, names of any employees involved, include receipts and information detailing the spike in pricing
For advice regarding charities and donors seeking to address the coronavirus, click here