Fake Text Messages, Robocalls & Emails: Scams To Avoid in 2020
More than 20,000 Coronavirus-related scams have been filed with the Federal Trade Commission. Half of them claim lost money, about $500-800 per scam. Scammers love to impersonate people and organizations that we already trust and believe in, even more so during times of high stress. Therefore, we have summarized the top scams to avoid right now.
COVID-19 Related Scams
- You’ve come into contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19. These text messages are a scam. So, don’t click the link in the text.
- Testing kits, fake treatments or financial relief text messages and robocalls are a scam. You will NOT get a legitimate text from a government agency.
- Economic Impact payments. The IRS will NOT email you, text you or contact you on social media asking for personal or banking information related to payments.
Fake Government Agency Messages
- Social Security Administration Robocalls are a scam. The SSA does NOT contact individuals to report suspension orders or fraudulent activity. So, do NOT call the follow up number provided.
- US Department of Health and Human Services text messages are fake. Do not click any link provided, especially for supposed online tests for Coronavirus. An online test does not exist.
- Federal Communications Commission text messages are a scam. The FCC is NOT providing COVID-19 relief to consumers. Therefore, don’t fall prey and provide personal or banking information.
- World Health Organization calls asking for donations are a scam. The ONLY official donation WHO provides is the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Fear Tactic Scams
- Your PG&E Bill Is Late? Calls or emails claiming consumers and businesses are behind on utility bills are a scam. Remember, scammers love to impersonate people and organizations. So, don’t fall for it.
- Apple Called You? No. Apple won’t call you to say your iCloud account has been compromised. It’s a scam. Report it to Apple. Even more protect your account with a two-factor authentication.
Last year losses to online dating scams exceeded $200 million. Furthermore, romance scams are predicted to increase in 2020 with more people on the internet now. The money requests range from travel to medical to gambling debts and more. The bottom line is never send money or gifts to a date you haven’t met in person.
Other Top Internet Scams To Avoid
- The Nigerian letter scam. A scammer claims to be a member of a wealthy African family and seeking to move money out of their country. Consequently, you’re invited to help them out and benefit in return. We can’t believe this scam is still around.
- Pre-Approved money. You receive a letter or an email declaring you have been pre-approved for either a credit card or bank loan. Above all accredited banks won’t know your credit situation and pre-approve you unsolicited.
- Phishing scams. You receive an email from a seemingly familiar business that directs you to a site to verify personal information and passwords. Never click the links provided in suspicious emails. Doing so will make your computer vulnerable to viruses and malware. Certainly no reputable business will ask for your password online.
- Travel scams. Clicking a travel image for the promise of a free trip will prompt you to complete a survey. The survey asks to fill in your personal information. Hence, your computer is opened to viruses and your data is compromised. Scammers regularly use Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
- Lottery scams. These emails come out of the blue, claiming you’ve won some amount of money. Only you haven’t. When you win the lottery, you contact the appropriate retailer, not the other way around.
It’s safe to assume that if anyone is asking for your bank or personal information, you’re being taken for a scam. You should never give out personal information to anyone on the internet who contacts you directly. If you have to make a financial transaction online, only do so on a secure server and through a reputable site.
Government agencies offer these tips to protect yourself from scams to avoid:
- Don’t respond to calls or messages from unknown or suspicious numbers.
- Even if the number looks legitimate, scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into responding. Keep in mind that government agencies will not call you to ask for personal information or money.
- Do not give your username, password, date of birth, Social Security number, financial data or other personal information over email, text message or phone.
- If you’re being pressured to share information or make a payment immediately, that’s a red flag.
- Don’t open attachments or click on links in text messages or emails from sources you don’t recognize.
- Verify web addresses and type them character-by-character into your browser.
- Check for common misspellings or wrong domain names in a link. An address that should end in “.gov” might end “.com” instead.
- Do your research before donating to a cause or a charity. Call or look at its website to verify that it’s legitimate. Above all, never donate in cash, by gift card or by wiring money.
- If you get a message from a friend that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
- Finally, there are no products that have been proven to treat or prevent Covid-19 currently, so ignore any offers for products that claim to do so.