The FCC launched a new website to educate businesses and consumers about phone scammers that are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable populations. The website provides examples of phone and text message scams that have been reported to the agency, including reports of scammers offering free home testing kits, promoting fake cures, selling health insurance or targeting other virus-related concerns.
These scams may lead consumers to doubt the veracity of legitimate outreach from healthcare companies, local businesses, charitable organizations and government officials. For example, the FCC’s website provides a recording of a scammer trying to offer a complimentary COVID-19 testing kit with diabetes medication and medical equipment. As a result, companies should follow their standard operating procedures as they reach out to their consumers with COVID-19 related updates but anticipate that consumers may begin to question such outreach.
The FCC suggests the following steps that consumers and businesses can take to protect against telephone scams, including coronavirus scams:
- Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
- Never share personal or financial information via email, text messages or over the phone.
- Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
- Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
- Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren't hacked.
- Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.
If you are contacted by a suspected telephone scammer, you can notify the FCC at www.fcc.gov/complaints.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.