NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — More people are getting taken advantage of during the COVID-19 pandemic and scam artists know social media can be a dangerous weapon.
Nashville resident Amanda Bishop bought a piece of exercise equipment she saw on social media, as COVID-19 forced many people to work-out at home.
“I found myself on social media a little more throughout quarantine and I was on Instagram and the advertisement looked absolutely legitimate, the website looked legitimate,” said Bishop. “I ordered a product. I never received it. The only point of contact for the website was a Gmail account. I just kept getting emails with a different tracking number every time.”
She said it was a false tracking number and she never got the product she paid for. She contacted the Better Business Bureau where they’re seeing these types of incidents all too often.
“Right now we’re seeing a significant uptick in social media scams, mostly because all of us are using our devices more than we ever have,” said BBB of Middle TN and Southern KY President/CEO Robyn Householder.
Since March of this year, the BBB has seen about 113 scams reported through social media, with one third in Middle Tennessee.
The two scams they see most often are offering fake products, like face masks or hand sanitizer, that don’t exist. The other is saying you qualify for grant money from the government.
“These scammers are opportunists. They’re going to take advantage of our current fear, our current stress level, our current needs and that’s the type of information that they’re going to push out,” said Householder.
She said oftentimes the offers are through messages that look like they’re coming from a friend.
“If you are getting communications from someone who looks familiar to you, call them directly and ask them about it,” Householder said.
She said to also keep this in mind: you will not get a grant that you have not applied for, and government agencies will most likely contact you in writing, not social media.
After her experience, Bishop said to always at least Google the company you’re buying from and try to shop locally.
“I thought it was very just uncharitable of a company to scam people especially during this trying time,” said Bishop. “That’s really what got me. I just want to look out for anyone else.”
The BBB reported that there’s been a significant uptick of Millenials being scammed during the pandemic because they’re the ones on social media most often.