Businesses offering ‘coronavirus services’ popping up in Houston, but consumers need to be careful

HOUSTON – One of the financial impacts of the coronavirus according to Kevin Loria at Consumer Reports is scam companies and services.

“It’s causing people to spend money on things they shouldn’t and in some cases it could be dangerous," Loria said.

As for the "infodemic" that now exists regarding what can kill the virus?

“Any time that you have a public health emergency like this, there are going to be scammers out there and certain product makers that are going to try to take advantage of the situation,” he said.

Since the outbreak, the tech sector has taken action to remove misinformation and false advertising.

Companies like Amazon, Google, Twitter and Facebook have gone on the offensive.

“We’ve formed partnerships with organizations like the who, the world health organization,” Mark Zuckerberg said.

But what actually works and what doesn't?

Some local companies are pushing expensive approaches in the neighborhood of $6,000 to $8,000 for a 3,000 square-foot home. Protected Catastrophe Management and O2 Wizard of Texas are two companies that say they can eliminate coronavirus through ozone, created by their generators.

PCM says they will professionally eradicate all pathogens including COVID-19.

But the website also has an important disclaimer stating, “it is believed that the oxygenation process will be able to kill COVID-19."

"I cannot say that this will kill COVID-19 because there haven’t been enough studies for them to even figure out the vaccine,” says Scott Moore, an operator with both companies.

When KPRC 2 asked Moore why they are offering it if they can’t guarantee killing coronavirus, Moore said, “because I think it’s a better process for people to come into their homes and to know that before anybody comes inside and starts wiping down and cleaning, that we have done the very best thing that we think we can do to clear the environment.”

When reminded it is what he thinks, not what is actually known, Moore said, “I completely agree with what you're saying."

Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an Assistant Professor of tropical medicine and infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine, advises that people should go to EPA.gov for the products they say meet the criteria to fight coronavirus.

“I want my patients to know that there is credible information out there and we should be looking to those experts,” Weatherhead said.

The Federal Trade Commission has several suggestions to avoid being scammed.