BBB Warns That Text Messages about “Mandatory” COVID-19 Tests are Scams

Columbus, OH (March 27, 2020) – The coronavirus outbreak has been big business for scammers. First it was fake masks, then fake government grants and now it’s a fake COVID-19 test. In the past few days, BBB’s across the country have received numerous Scam Tracker reports of phony text messages claiming to be from a government agency.

How the Scam Works:

You get a text message that looks like it is coming from the U.S. Federal Government. However, it is actually coming from scammers impersonating the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The message tells you that you must take a “mandatory online COVID-19 test” and has a link to a website. But there is no online test for coronavirus.

This is far from the only text message scams (often known as “smishing” for SMS phishing). BBB has also gotten reports of texts urging recipients to complete the census or fill out an online application in order to receive their stimulus check.

No matter what the message says, don’t click! These texts are phishing for personal information. They can also download malware to your device, which opens you up to risk of identity theft.

Tips to Spot a COVID-19 Text Scam:

.Government agencies do not typically communicate through text messages.

.Ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO” to prevent future texts. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.

.If you think your text message is real, be sure it’s directing you to a web address like “agency.gov” or “agency.ca,” not “agency.otherwebsite.com.”

.Check for look-alikes. Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Find contact information from an independent source and call them to be sure the original communication is legitimate.

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker and check bbb.org for more information on how to avoid scams.

For more information, follow BBB on Facebook, Twitter, TrustLocal.org or at bbb.org.