coronavirus scams

You Can Get Paid for a COVID-19 Clinical Trial, But Avoid Scams

You should never pay to participate, nor offer your financial information, like a bank account or routing number

NBC Universal, Inc.

Scammers are constantly looking for new ways to go after your money. Now they’re piggybacking off hopeful COVID-19 vaccine news to do it.

One technique involves sending someone a text, email or social media message that says they qualify for a clinical trial – maybe even suggesting they could make hundreds or thousands of dollars by taking part, according to the Better Business Bureau.

The goal is to get someone to click on a link or download a document, which could fish for personal information or come with malware.

The holiday shopping season is upon us and many shopping events are moving online, but the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be careful when navigating online events.

Real clinical trials may offer payment, in totals that can range from $1,000 to $2,500, the Federal Trade Commission says. But you should never pay to participate, nor offer your financial information, like a bank account or routing number.

Through genuine clinical trials, the FTC says, you can opt to receive payment through check instead of direct deposit.

"If you get the text [for a scam], they will ask you to click on a link or download some type of document,” said Rihanna Smith Hamblin from the Better Business Bureau. “If you are downloading a document you could be putting malware on your computer. That's a big problem, they are trying to take your information. If you click on a link they might be fishing throughout your personal information."

Legitimate trials may also ask for your name or contact information, but should never ask for a social security number, the FTC says.

If you want to check the validity of a clinical trial, you can visit clinicaltrials.gov for a database that provides more information on real ongoing trials.

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