There’s an old saying, “Bad guys love bad times,” and the truth of this is shown in the proliferation of covid-related scams. Criminals know that we’re stressed out and distracted, and are trying to take advantage when our guard is down. There are the usual scams via email, robocalls, and smishing (phishing via phone texts). But there are a lot more that have gotten very creative, from roadside billboards to student loans and stimulus checks.
Here’s a list of some of the top scams to watch for that might pop up on your radar here in California. Needless to say, all of these contained links or other methods of contact that should never be used.
Remember: When in doubt, don’t click.
These are scam emails sent out threatening financial penalties for breaking quarantine. The emails often say that you have been reported or recorded as leaving your home illegally and that fines have been posted to accounts with a link to click on for more information.
Stimulus check registration
Scam texts and emails are being sent saying that they are the FCC and asking to click on a link to register to make sure to receive your stimulus checks. The government will never ask for you to click links and change information like that. In reality, the only place to update your personal information for stimulus checks is at IRS.gov.
Student loans scam
One big robocall that went around preyed on the 42 million-plus people who have student loans. It references how President Donald Trump waived interest on student loans — a real thing — but then asked people to call back “for more information on how these new measures will impact your future payment obligations.” They then would put the pressure on, asking for logins, passwords, financial information and more.
Messages have been popping up on social media, in emails and even on mailers offering “Free” streaming subscriptions for services like Netflix or Hulu “to keep you entertained” during the pandemic. Links go to a fake Netflix site that can infect your computer and send out similar links to all your friends, too.
Fake Covid test results
Test result scams have become very popular, where people pretend to be health providers reach out asking for personal information or payments. Officials have stated for the record that testing facilities do NOT need to collect Social Security numbers or bank account information — and especially not over the phone.
In February, the World Health Organization announced that scammers were contacting people via email, phone, text and even fax to ask for online donations. The malicious websites and hyperlinks would instead install malware and steal login information and personal information.
Billboard scams. Yes, billboards.
Two groups, Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical and Golden Sunrise Pharmaceutical, were charged last summer for advertising a $23,000 coronavirus “treatment.” Promotions for the so-called Emergency D-Virus Plan of Care included at least four physical billboards along roads in California. Both undercover investigators and the FBI were involved, resulting in the arrest of the company’s CEO.
We think this is worth saying again one more time: When in doubt, don’t click. Be sure to check out our articles and resources regarding online security on our website. And please feel free to call our customer service team if you’re unsure about any emails or internet communications you receive that might not be what they seem.