Coronavirus (COVID-19)Telephone Scams and More

By | April 3, 2020
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Coronavirus (COVID-19)Telephone Scams and More

When times are tough and people are afraid, one thing you can count on is that miscreants will be out looking for easy money by taking advantage of uncertainty and fear. The current coronavirus pandemic has become a virtual gold mine for scammers who prey on the innocent and trusting.

Our mission is to keep you safe. And as we have always said the best thing you can do to stay safe and avoid falling for scams is to use your common sense and stay informed. In the interest of keeping you informed, we are posting a few phone scams complete with audio and transcripts, so should you get one of these calls, you won’t be a victim.

(If you want to skip directly to the sample recordings of phone scams click here.)

According to the FCC…

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 and hoax text message campaigns and scam robocalls offering free home testing kits, promoting bogus cures, selling health insurance, and preying on virus-related fears.

A text message scam 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.

Text message hoaxes may claim that the government will order a mandatory national two-week quarantine, or instruct you to go out and stock up on supplies. The messages can appear to be from a “next door neighbor.” The National Security Council tweeted that these are fake.

A text message scam impersonating the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services informs recipients that they must take a “mandatory online COVID-19 test” with a link, warns the BBB.

Scammers are also using robocalls to target consumers during this national emergency.

For example, the World Health Organization recently issued a warning about criminals seeking to take advantage of the pandemic to steal money or sensitive personal information from consumers. It urges people to be wary of phone calls and text messages that purport to be from the WHO, or charity organizations, asking for account information or for money.

The FCC has received reports of 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 is targeting 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.

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.)

For more information about scam calls and texts, visit the FCC Consumer Help Center and the FCC Scam Glossary. You can also file a complaint about such scams at fcc.gov/complaints.

Forewarned is forearmed… so here’s to keeping you safe…

Test Kit Phone Scam

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)

Corona Virus Student Loan Scam

TRANSCRIPT: Hello, this is Brad … with an important message regarding the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on your student loans. As you may have already heard, President Trump invoked his power as commander-in-chief by declaring a national emergency due to the widespread impact of COVID-19. New measures will include waiving interest on your federal student loans until further notice. During this time our offices have continued to maintain full staffing levels and will continue to do so until further notice. For more information on how these new measures will impact your future payment obligations, call us back today at 855-264-XXXX before 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. Thanks, and have a great day (Audio source: Nomorobo)

Coronavirus Social Security Scam

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. I repeat 888-991-XXXX. (Audio source: Nomorobo)

Coronavirus “We Deliver” Scam

TRANSCRIPT: Dear customer… Due to coronavirus outbreak, we deliver a wide range of sanitizers, handwash, toilet papers, and face masks at your doorstep to safeguard you and your family from coronavirus. No need to visit stores. Get delivery in 24 hours. To order press 1. For more knowledge and safety tips about coronavirus, press 2. (Audio source: Nomorobo)

Coronavirus HVAC Phone Scam

TRANSCRIPT: Protect your loved ones from the coronavirus. For only $79 our highly trained technicians will do a full air duct cleaning and sanitation to make sure that the air you breathe is free of bacteria. So don’t hesitate, press 0 and have your duct system cleaned and sanitized now. Press 9 to be removed from this list. (Audio source: YouMail)

Coronavirus Diabetic Test Kit Scam

TRANSCRIPT: If you are diabetic and using insulin, we can qualify you to get a free diabetic monitor and a complimentary testing kit for coronavirus. To learn more, please press 1, otherwise please press 2. (Audio source: YouMail)

Work From Home Scam

TRANSCRIPT: Hello this is a courtesy invitation to work with Amazon from home and make up to $400 in a day. Open enrollment has begun for the Amazon associate program. The program allows you to partner with Amazon and share in their success, as a referral partner. Everyone over 18 qualifies. No sales or technical experience are needed. Work from home. You set your own schedule. To learn more about partnering with Amazon, call the Amazon hotline at 360-203-XXXX. Spaces are limited so please call now, 360-203-XXXX, that’s 360-203-XXXX. Thank you. (Audio source: Nomorobo)

And this is a common scam distributed on social media and by email…

From my next door neighbor

Just received this…from a good friend of mine who works for the CDC

Please be advised, within 48 to 72 hours the president will evoke what is called the Stafford Act. Just got off the phone with some of my military friends up in DC who just got out of a two hour briefing. The president will order a two week mandatory quarantine for the nation. Stock up on whatever you guys need to make sure you have a two week supply of everything. Please forward to your network.

We want you to be safe. And we hope that the information above will help prepare you in case you are the target of a scam. In the weeks, and possibly months ahead, most of us are going to be targeted by criminals. We hope this helps prepare you. 

We wish you all the very best. Stay alert, stay informed, stay safe… and be well.

2 thoughts on “Coronavirus (COVID-19)Telephone Scams and More

  1. Charlotte Mitchell

    Although I never answer numbers that are unfamiliar, these scammers sometimes leave a message. The examples you cite are very helpful so that everyone recognizes illegitimate recordings. Unfortunately, there will always be those who prey on the innocent and unsuspecting. Thanks for all you do to help keep everybody safe. Praying that you both stay safe and well during this crisis.

    Reply
  2. Carolyn Evertson

    Thank you so much for the advice and help. Actually I have already received two of these calls one from the Social Security ministration, and the other one from Amazon in the form of an email to different times. It is unbelievable what these people do nowadays it’s so nice to know that someone like he’s looking out for us. Thank you again

    Reply

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