Scammers are getting creative when it comes to COVID-19. From home tests to jobs, they are on the prowl for unsuspecting victims.
Stimulus funds are starting to hit bank accounts today. That means scammers are on the ready. You do not need to do anything to get your money. You can, however, track it. Go to the IRS economic impact payments page on their website.
While researchers are working hard to develop safe and effective COVID-19 tests, the CDC and WHO have not identified a home test. Don’t be lured by scammers who say they have an online or home test for you.
Scammers are using smishing—text message scams—for everything from fake masks, fake government grants to COVID-19 tests. Never click on the link. It can install malware on your phone.
The FCC, CDC and WHO have also warned that scammers are impersonating their offices. Some are offering free tests when you provide your personal information and one is targeting diabetics by offering a free COVID-19 test along with a diabetic monitor.
It doesn’t stop there. Because unemployment is so high, scammers are offering work-from-home opportunities, student loan repayment plans and debt consolidation offers. They are even targeting small business owners.
Here are two sample phone scams provided by the FCC’s article, “COVID-19 Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips.”
Audio Transcript: …[The Coronavirus] Response Act has made coronavirus testing more accessible immediately. If you want to receive a free testing kit delivered overnight to your home, press 1. If you do not want your free testing press 2. (Audio source: YouMail).
Audio Transcript: “Hello this is a call from the Social Security Administration. During these difficult times of the coronavirus, we regret to inform you that we have got an order to suspend your socials immediately within 24 hours due to suspicious and fraudulent activities found on your socials. We are contacting you as this case is critical and needs your urgent attention. To get more information about this case please call immediately on our department number 888-991-xxxx / repeat 888-991-xxxx. (Audio source: Nomorobo)
As you can see, the scammers are using fear, uncertainty and urgency in their tactics. Remember, government agencies don’t normally communicate through text. Ignore the instructions to text “STOP” or “NO.” This lets scammers know they have a legitimate phone number. If you think something is real, go to the actual website, not the link they’ve included. Finally, make sure it’s the actual agency and not a website or message that looks like the legitimate site.
Scammers are using this time to ramp up their efforts. Stop and think before you react. If you’d like more information, contact one of our fraud specialists, Edward Schmitz and Betsy Rice.
BBB Scam Alert: “Mandatory” COVID-19 Test Texts are a Scam, Better Business Bureau March 27, 2020
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