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Don’t Fall For COVID-19 Scams

COVID-19 Scams on the Rise

Most common COVID-19 scams & what to do

Between the millions of people receiving communication from the government about unemployment and stimulus checks, and the substantial increase in the number of us using personal devices to work remotely, fraudsters have found it easier than ever to find targets for new scams surrounding coronavirus fears. The FCC issued new guidance last month on some of the most common COVID-19 scams being reported and how to avoid falling victim to them. (You can view most recent FTC complaint data by type and state here).

COVID-19 scams

Here’s what to watch out for:

Text message scams, especially containing links

What they claim to be:

  • offering free coronavirus testing
  • offering a cure

Some of these texts attempt to impersonate government agencies. One such scam claims to be the “FCC Financial Care Center” offering $30,000 in COVID-19 relief funds. However, there is no program under the real FCC that provides relief funds to consumers.

Another is a message pretending to be from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services telling people to take a mandatory COVID-19 test online using a provided link.

A third is a text message beginning with “IRS COVID-19 News” followed by a link to register/update your information to receive economic impact payment regardless of your status. That link goes to a fraudulent website that LOOKS like the IRS’s and prompts users to fill out identifying information like birthday, social security number and a debit/credit card number to “verify identity.” You actually shouldn’t have to do anything to receive your economic stimulus payment – it will be deposited or mailed automatically. IRS Commissioner, Charles Rettig, also made a statement reiterating that the agency is not calling people to verify or collect any financial information, so if you receive something like this, it is a scam.

What to do:

Do not click on any links you receive in text messages. These are likely to be phishing scams. Government agencies will never request your personal information or any payment over text. If you receive a text with a suspicious link, call the “sender” directly instead to verify authenticity. If you receive a suspicious text asking for personal information, visit fcc.gov/complaints.


Fake websites

What they claim to be:

Government websites or stores, usually selling in-demand items like hand sanitizer, face masks and cleaning products. Some of these fake websites have malicious ads or popups that attempt to hack your device, others attempt to collect your personal or billing information for a “purchase,” and that information is then used to access your banking information or identity.

What to do:

First and foremost, always try to make sure you have device protection like antivirus software and popup blockers installed. Be very careful whenever you’re about to enter personal or billing information on a website – you want to make sure it is legit. One telltale sign is looking at website’s URL in the address bar. The majority of legitimate or safe websites will end in “.com” or “.org”. Stay away from domains ending in:

  • “com.co”
  • “.ma”
  • “.co”
  • “.buzz”
  • “.click”
  • “.rest”
  • “.gq”
  • “.ml”
  • “.tk”
  • “.top”
  • “.fit”
  • “.cf”
  • “.work”
  • “.ga”

Robocall scams

covid-19 scams robocalls

What they claim to be:

  • Callers from the “World Health Organization (WHO)”
  • Companies offering free testing kits, medical supplies or COVID-19 cures
  • The “U.S. Department of Health” notifying you of a local outbreak in your area
  • Companies offering COVID-19 themed work from home opportunities
  • Debt consolidators
  • Student loan deferment programs

What to do:

Be wary of any phone communication from unknown numbers, agencies you have not heard from before, or from any of the categories listed above. Never share personal or financial information through email or text messages, and use extra caution when sharing over the phone. In other words, confirm the call is legitimate first! If you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately, that should raise a red flag. You can hear audio examples of some robocall scams at fcc.gov/covid-scams. If you have been the victim of a scam, contact law enforcement and file a complaint at fcc.gov/complaints


Netflix scams

What they claim to be:

Emails or texts from “Netflix” offering you a free trial or claiming that your account has been cancelled. Both also ask for credit/debit card information.

What to do:

Delete and ignore. If you have questions about your Netflix does offer a free 30 day trial for new users which you can sign up for on their website. For any other questions regarding your subscription, follow-up directly at Netflix.com or on the Netflix app.

In conclusion, there’s enough to worry about amid the pandemic – don’t add to that stress by falling prey to any COVID-19 scams. Stay mindful of the information you share and sign up for email updates to stay abreast of the latest consumer alerts from the FTC.

May 25, 2020

by Eli King Conklin for Roohan Realty | LinkedIn


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