The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to phone scammer schemes and malicious attempts to capitalize on panic. The FCC expanded their list of scam and hoax test messages, phone calls, and related media with new coronavirus-related instances that’ve appeared over the last couple of weeks. These scams range from offers for “free test kits” to a rumor that President Trump will be issuing a “mandatory quarantine” for the entire USA for a 2-week period (he hasn’t.)
Free Public Offers
If you get a call offering any good or service to you at this time, there’s a better chance that it’s a scam than it is something legitimate. The same is true of text messages. No official government or otherwise public health or services group will ever ask you to “verify your personal information”.
There is no such thing as a “free virus test kit” that’d need to be attained via phone or text message. Any and all tests for coronavirus (COVID-19) will be administered by medical professionals at medical care facilities.
Rumors for panic
One of the most common “rumors” at this moment is a tip from a friend of a friend. That friend might have a friend who says they know someone in the government that’s gotten an early heads-up about an order that President Donald Trump may be about to release.
The rumor suggests that Trump will issue a “mandatory quarantine” of the entire United States for some brief period of time to curb the spread of coronavirus. There certainly have been mandatory quarantines, in some cases, but Trump has not issued and will not likely issue an order as broad as this. The key to this rumor is the suggestion that it’d be prudent for everyone to “go out and buy supplies” as soon as possible, “just in case”.
You certainly could just go ahead and get more supplies, if you wanted, but this rumor was instigated to inspire panic. It’s not yet clear where said rumor started, but it was most likely borne of a desire to spread chaos.
Rules to follow
The FCC offered a set of rules / tips that’ll allow you to avoid malicious agents on the phone and via text or email. This list is not all-inclusive:
– Do not trust a call just because you recognize the number or name on the number – these can be faked.
– Never click a link in a text message, ever.
– Do not respond to “charity” calls, and definitely do not donate to a “charity” if they called you – this is not a charity.
– Be cautious “if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.”
– Never share your personal info via email, text, or on a phone call
– Never share your financial info via email, text, or on a phone call
– Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers
Places to check
SlashGear will continue to follow and report on this and other COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) news in our main news feed and in our coronavirus tag portal. See also: Our guide Coronavirus COVID-19 resources: What should I do? Who do I trust? We’re sharing stories from quarantine, seeking out activities and opportunities, and making sure you’ll never want for updates through the future!