Sample Scam Text
IRS COVID-19 News:
Click xxx.xxx/IRS-COVID-19 to register/update your information in order to receive the economic impact payment regardless of your status.
As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact the United States, phone scammers have seized the opportunity to prey on consumers.
The FCC has received reports of scam text-message campaigns and robocalls offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, selling health insurance, and preying on virus-related fears.
Text message scams may falsely advertise a cure or an offer to be tested for coronavirus. Do not click on links in texts related to the virus, and check cdc.gov/coronavirus for the most current information.
Some text scams are impersonating government agencies. The FCC has learned of a text scam claiming to be from the "FCC Financial Care Center" and offering $30,000 in COVID-19 relief. There is no FCC program to provide relief funds to consumers. The text is likely a phishing attempt to get banking or other personal information from its victims.
The Better Business Bureau is warning of a text message scam impersonating the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Recipients are told they must take a "mandatory online COVID-19 test" using a provided link.
Another government imposter text begins with "IRS COVID-19 News" and includes a link and instructions for recipients "to register/update your information in order to receive the economic impact payment regardless of your status." The link points to a website designed to look like the IRS's and requests identifying information, including date of birth, social security number and filing status. Ultimately, it requests a debit or credit card number to "verify your identity."
The FCC has also learned of other bogus consumer offers with coronavirus hooks, such as a text scam offering five months of free Netflix service. If you receive a suspicious text purportedly from Netflix, the company has a webpage with instructions for what to do.
Scammers are also using robocalls to target consumers during this national emergency.
For example, the World Health Organization issued a warning about criminals seeking to take advantage of the pandemic in order to steal money or sensitive personal information. The warning urges people to be wary of phone calls and text messages that purport to be from WHO, asking for account information or for money.
Reports have also been received about robocalls purporting to offer free virus test kits in an effort to collect consumers' personal and health insurance information. One pernicious version of this scam targets higher risk individuals with diabetes, offering a free COVID-19 testing kit along with a free diabetic monitor. Other robocalls are marketing fake cures and asking for payment over the phone.
Yet another robocall message purports to be from the U.S. Department of Health, warning of an outbreak "in your area." The message recommends getting a vaccine and offers to connect you to a "health advisor."
Fraudsters are also preying on financial fears tied to the pandemic. The FCC is aware of robocall scams with COVID-19 themed work-from-home opportunities, debt consolidation offers, and student loan repayment plans. (For legitimate information about the coronavirus-related interest rate deferral on student loans, check FSA's website.)
Many consumers are receiving checks as part of the federal government response to the coronavirus. No one will call or text you to verify your personal information or bank account details in order to "release" the funds. The Treasury Department expects most people to receive their payments via direct-deposit information that the department has on file from prior tax filings.
If you think you've been a victim of a coronavirus scam, contact law enforcement immediately.
The FCC offers the following tips to help you protect yourself from scams, including coronavirus scams:
- Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
- Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
- Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
- Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
- Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren't hacked.
- Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating. (Learn more about charity scams.)