BBB warns consumers of COVID-19 text message scam

The Better Business Bureau is warning you of a text message scam related to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The organization says that scammers have been busy during this pandemic, having already tried scams related to fake masks and fake government grants. The latest one involves scammers posing as government officials issuing a “mandatory online COVID-19 test” through a text message link. There is no such thing. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the scam from the BBB:

“You get a text message that looks like it comes from the US federal government. Current reports say that scammers are impersonating the US Department of Health and Human Services, but they are unlikely to stop there. 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!

These are far from the only coronavirus 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 also can download malware to your device, which opens you up to risk for identity theft.”

Tips to Spot a COVID-19 Text Message 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 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 info on your own and call them to be sure the person you’ve heard from is legitimate.

For more consumer tips regarding COVID-19,  see BBB.org/Coronavirus.

For more business tips, see BBB.org/Covid.

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.