The FBI and IRS have issued warnings about COVID-19-related scams for a year now, but the scams keep coming.
One of the latest is a tech message that announces “you have been approved for our COVID relief program.” Here’s the best (unbelievable) part: the text message says you’re eligible to earn $1,472 daily. Daily! That’s over a half-million dollars a year. That doesn’t pass the sniff test, but people are apparently still falling for it or the scammers wouldn’t waste time doing it.
“My wonderful wife Bharti, she got this text. She showed it to me and I immediately knew it was a scam. She was pretty sure too.”
Hackers picked the wrong people to send it to. Neil Diswani is the author of “Big Breaches” and director of the advanced cybersecurity program at Stanford University. His wife didn’t click on the link.
“Simply clicking a link on a mobile phone these days can result in your cellphone getting infected with a virus,” Diswani said. “Or they can take you to a page where they can get more information about you.”
Granted, iPhones are hard to hack, but the IRS issued a warning that it found scam links like this that took users to a fake website that looked almost identical to the real thing. iPhone users are susceptible to falling victim that way.
On an Android phone, the link could install malware that steals any information on your phone. So it’s best to have an anti-malware app on Android devices. And keep it and your phone updated.
“When a scam is new and fresh is the point at which it’s most likely to take people even with the counter-measures in place,” said Diswani.
There’s no way to know right now how many people have received a similar text. Diswani says if you do get messages from numbers or names you don’t know, “better to not rush, not click it and block the contact.”
Remember, the IRS, the FBI and other government offices will never send you a text message or email. If you get one, it’s fake and a scam.