The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to spread like wildfire in the U.S., causing panic and chaos among hardest-hit communities. While everyone - individuals, families, businesses, and the government - are busy trying to contain the virus, opportunistic criminals have come out to wreak havoc on an already stressful situation. Scammers prey on people's fears about contracting COVID-19, often promising a cure or a way to get tested for free.
During these trying times,
you need to take extra precautions against coronavirus-related fraud, and
educating yourself about these types of scams can help you identify a scammer a
Here's a list of all known scams and fraud
cases, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Text message hoaxes are going around claiming
that the government is ordering a mandatory two-week quarantine or one that
sends out instructions for people to leave their homes and stock up on
supplies. These text hoaxes want people to panic, and they can appear as if
your next-door neighbor sent it. To understand who is sending these text
messages you could use email lookup or phone lookup tools to be
aware of a scam.
The FCC reports that text scams are offering
free home testing kits, bogus cures or vaccines, home HVAC cleaning services,
and health insurance coverage for COVID-19. Do not click on any links when you
get texts related to the virus. Instead, go to cdc.gov/coronavirus for
up-to-date information and check public records to see if the business is legit
Scam Texts Messages Impersonating Government Agencies
There's a text scam that claims to be from the
"FCC Financial Center," offering a COVID-19 relief package of
$30,000. The FCC has stated that there is no relief program that gives funds to
consumers and that this text scam is likely a phishing attempt to get a
victim's personal information and banking details. The government will provide
consumers a check as part of the federal government's coronavirus response, but
no one will call, text, or email you to verify your personal information. The
process is automatic and will show up in your direct deposit account filed with
the Treasury Department.
According to the BBB, scammers are
impersonating the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sending out
fake texts that instruct the recipients to take a "mandatory online
COVID-19 test" using the link provided. The World Health Organization (WHO) is also
warning the public against sending money or personal account information to
people pretending to be from the WHO or charity organizations dealing with
Robocall scams are doing the rounds as well
during this pandemic. The FCC warns about robocalls that collect personal and
health insurance details hidden behind an offer for free virus test kits.
There's also a more nefarious robocall scam targeting people with diabetes,
offering a free diabetic monitor for every COVID-19 test kit. Other robocalls
advertise bogus cures for the virus, debt consolidation, work-from-home
opportunities, and student loan relief.
● Don't answer calls from unknown numbers.
● Never respond to unsolicited emails or click on any links included in the message.
● Don't reply to text messages from unknown senders or click on any links.
● According to cyber crime statistics, text or email are the most common types of initial contact by identity thieves. If you get a text or email from a friend with a suspicious link, call the person to make sure their account wasn't hacked.
● Never share your financial and personal details through text, email, or over the phone.
● Always check on a charity or business by checking public records to verify their authenticity before donating.
● Criminals can spoof phone numbers to make them appear as if a government agency is calling you. Always remember: the government will never call you to ask for money or personal information.
If you're being pressured to act or send payment immediately, it's more likely a scam. Contact law enforcement ASAP if you feel you've been a victim of coronavirus fraud.