Beware of unscrupulous sales tactics capitalizing on coronavirus (quick report)
Local consumer affairs centers and the like across Japan have received inquiries and complaints related to the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. Among them, NCAC would like to share a few cases of unscrupulous sales tactics capitalizing on coronavirus to prevent consumers from becoming victims of similar tactics.
Sampling of inquiries and complaints
- [Case1] I received a message on my smartphone that says, "We would like to distribute face masks for free."
- I received a message with a URL on my smartphone that says, "Considering the spread of coronavirus, we would like to distribute face masks for free." I think the message is dubious.
- (inquiry received in February 2020, contract signatory: woman in her 50s)
- [Case2] A salesperson told me that the gold price would rise as the spread of coronavirus and induced me to apply for the right to buy gold.
- A salesperson suddenly visited my home and said, "Under the influence of coronavirus, the Chinese economy is in disarray. It's quite sure that there will be a rise in the gold price. If you apply for the right to buy gold now, you might be able to buy gold at the pre-hike price. You should sign up right away." Is this talk true?
- (inquiry received in February 2020, contract signatory: man in his 80s)
Advice for consumers
When you receive a suspicious email or SMS from an unknown sender, ignore it.
There have been inquiries and complaints about unscrupulous sales tactics taking advantage of unavailability of face masks. Some businesses try to attract consumers by sending a message with a URL that says, "We will send face masks for free" and so on to let them click the URL. If you access the URL in such a message, you may be directed to a phishing site, and an unauthorized application may be installed on your smartphone or your personal information may be stolen.
When you receive any message from a suspicious sender, never access the URL written therein. Even if any existing company name is shown, never call the phone number or click the URL in such a message. In case of concern, check the official website of the company or inquire the matter to its customer service. Some companies caution about unscrupulous sales tactics capitalizing on coronavirus on their official websites.
Don't fall for a sales pitch by any unscrupulous business capitalizing on coronavirus.
It has been reported that some businesses solicited consumers to make an investment using the excuse of the economic impact from the coronavirus epidemic, saying "It's quite sure that there will be a rise in the gold price" and so on. If you feel suspicious even slightly, flatly refuse on the spot. Never pay money or sign a contract.
In case of concern or trouble, consult your local consumer affairs center.
In the future, new types of solicitation tactics may be used. If you feel suspicious even slightly, consult your local consumer affairs center soon.