Q. We have been hearing about different scams related to the COVID-19 virus. One such scam had to do with fake COVID-19 testing. What type of scams are out there and how can they be avoided?
A. In November, Bridgeport officials warned residents about a fraudulent COVID test site near Gala Foods on East Main Street. Officials said the site was not registered with the site and was illegal. The best place to find state-sanctioned testing locations is here.
The Federal Communications Commission has warned of a number of COVID-related scams, from texts messages that install code on your phone or launch a fake webpage to collect personal information to text messages that offer cures, warnings about needing a test, or other fraudulent information. The FCC warns not to click on the links, and to check cdc.gov/coronavirus for the most current information.
The FCC also warned about scams that impersonate government agencies, including one that claims to be from the “FCC Financial Care Center” that offers $30,000 in relief funds. There’s no such FCC program, and the FCC says it’s likely an attempt to get banking information from victims.
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a text scam that tells victims the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services is urging them to take a mandatory online COVID test using a provided link. Another scam text says “IRS COVID-19 News” and includes a link and instructions to register/update information in order to receive an economic impact payment. The link brings victims to a webpage that looks like an IRS page and seeks information such as social security number, tax filing status, and date of birth.
The BBB said that government agencies do not typically communication through text messages. Go directly to the agency’s website to verify any activity to receive in a text. The BBB also urged consumers to ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO” to prevent future texts. This is a ploy for scammers to confirm they have an active phone number.
The FCC also warns of a text scam that offers five months of free Netflix service. If you receive such a text, Netflix has a page with instructions on what to do.
If you receive a text like the ones mentioned above, the best advice is to just delete it from your phone without clicking on any of the links provided. Do your own research and see if the sending organization actually exists, the BBB says. Find contact information on your own and call to see if the offer/text is legitimate.