The coronavirus is taking the United States by storm, infecting mass groups of people as it spreads. COVID-19 had a few cases here or there and has now spread so rapidly, making us the number one country in the world for most Coronavirus cases. We are now told by the federal government to stay at home and quarantine ourselves until April 30th, and it is starting to feel like we are in a science fiction movie as we wonder when this pesky virus will go away.
Not only do we need to worry about this pesky virus, but we also need to worry about scammers coming up with ways to use the virus as a means to trick us with coronavirus scams. These scammers have become clever in their tactics, and have come up with many ways to trick you into giving them your hard-earned funds.
4 More Types of Coronavirus Scams
Robocall Coronavirus Scams
One of many coronavirus scams that are in place is the robocall scam. According to the FTC, Scammers will call their victims and pretend to be from the Social Security Administration, saying that they are suspending your social security accounts immediately due to suspicious activity. They urge you to call to get your social security accounts back where they then ask for your personal information to perform fraudulent activity and steal your money.
The IRS is supposedly also calling people, wanting to know your bank account numbers so that they can disperse the stimulus check of $1,200 into your account. Instead of giving you said money, they drain your bank account instead and take your life’s savings.
They also call saying that they are the Medicare office and are offering coronavirus tests to those with this insurance. They also collect personal information to use against you with this scam.
The final scam they use is where they call small business owners to make sure they will still be in business after the quarantine so that they can keep them on the Google listings. They then collect sensitive business information to perform fraudulent and financial crimes against them.
How to Avoid: If anyone calls you claiming to want to help you get through this difficult time of the coronavirus, then its probably a scam. Your business is still going to be listed on Google, the news or personal doctor will tell you when there are more tests available, and your social security accounts won’t be disabled due to a virus. Do not give them any information and hang up immediately if this happens to you.
“Mandatory” COVID-19 Text Message Scams
You’ll receive a fake text message claiming to be from the federal government (US Department of Health and Human Services) stating that you need to take a “mandatory coronavirus online test” with a link to get there. Once you click on the link, it will either be a blank page, a census, or an online application for a stimulus check.
How to Avoid: Do not click the link on your text message and ignore it; block the number if you need to! The federal government would not tell people to take a mandatory coronavirus test over a text message. Do not reply “Stop” or “No” when you see these texts because this will confirm that scammers have a real phone number. Also, do not trust a website without “.gov” or “.ca” in front of it.
Small Business Loan Scam
A small business receives an email, text, or call from someone claiming to be a part of the U.S. Small Business Administration supposedly offering grants to small businesses affected by the outbreak. You then get a link to fill out an online application, which looks simple enough which is what fools businesses into completing the said application. It then asks you to fill out your financial and business information.
After your application is approved, you are then asked to pay a “processing fee” of only a few thousand dollars! Of course, once they pay the money for their application, their grant never shows up. However, a few businesses have reported that after filling out this application, their “Facebook friend” reaches out to them saying how they got the grant and how its helped them a lot. This “friend” is usually a compromised Facebook account contacting all your friends.
How to Avoid: Make sure the website you are accessing has “.gov” or “.ca” at the end. If you still aren’t sure, do a quick internet search on this particular offer to see if other businesses have gotten it or if its a scam. Make a note that the government doesn’t usually don’t give out grants to small businesses, and they don’t text or communicate with people through social media.
Unnecessary Coronavirus Testing Scam
A Georgia man was arrested for accepting kickbacks from medical testing companies in exchange for bringing those who did not need coronavirus tests down to get tested anyways. This would allow for Medicare to cover all the testing charges and allow for this guy to get reimbursed for the money. Before the pandemic hit, he was also getting kickbacks for unnecessary cancer screenings.
How to Avoid: Do not believe anyone who says that their insurance will pay for you to get tested, and don’t get tested unless you have been around someone with the coronavirus or are having significant symptoms.
If something doesn’t seem right during this awful time, do not fall for it because it is most likely a scammer trying to get away with coronavirus scams. If you get an unknown text or call, you can reverse search the phone number at Social Catfish to see who is really calling you. Be sure to keep an eye out this Friday for our Crazy Catfish story to learn about a BONUS scam happening during the coronavirus.