Home > News > Scammers Are Cashing In on Your Ebola Fears

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


As a few cases of Ebola have reached the U.S., people are worrying about their exposure to the deadly disease and what they can do to avoid it. Among the plethora of helpful information out there on Ebola (as well as plenty of unhelpful content), drugs claiming to cure Ebola have started to appear, aimed to make money off people’s fear of the disease.

It’s a variation on the unfortunate theme of disaster-related scams: People crave information about tragedies. For example, after Hurricane Sandy, experts warned consumers about clicking on photos or videos that could have malware that then tracks your keystrokes, and fake charities that would steal their financial information. Unfortunately, scams like these can have major consequences of identity theft and fraud for consumers. (If you think you’ve fallen victim to one of these scams already, you may want to consider credit monitoring. You can also check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.)

In the case of something life-threatening like Ebola, people are eager to keep themselves safe. Unfortunately for the fearful public, others see this as a business opportunity. The Food and Drug Administration has for weeks been warning consumers to avoid products claiming to treat or cure Ebola, as there are no FDA-approved vaccines or drugs for treating it.

Since the first person to come down with Ebola in the U.S. died (and a nurse who cared for him tested positive for the disease), Americans have become increasingly concerned about an outbreak in the States, further fueling drug-scam business.

Some of the Ebola-treatment claims are pretty out there: Scammers have marketed products including silver, herbal oils and snake venom as Ebola cures, but the Federal Trade Commission and FDA have issued multiple statements warning consumers to avoid products making these claims. Both government agencies have warned companies making such claims to stop their misleading marketing — one organization making headlines is Natural Solutions Foundation, which sells something called Nano Silver — and if you come across products advertised as an Ebola treatment or cure, the FTC and FDA ask that you notify them.

Not only is it dangerous to the public to spread falsehoods about disease and supposed treatments for it, such scams can seriously harm people financially. Buying things you don’t need can mess up your budget, which can further damage your finances, and in the case of some online scams, you could expose yourself to identity thieves or hackers, by providing scammers your contact information or clicking on malware-infected links.

Whenever disasters strike, expect to see a flood of scams among legitimate headlines. As much as you want to learn more about what’s going on (as you should), be careful what you click, whom you give your information to and what you pay for.

More on Identity Theft:

Image: Fuse

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team