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Security & privacy

This new COVID scam tries to lure you in with a refund on your phone bill

By now, you should know that scammers and criminals will do almost anything to get their hands on your data and money. There is seemingly no length that they won’t go to, even if that means using the pandemic as a lure.

Tons of COVID-related scams have popped up during the pandemic. Some claim to fast-track you into testing sites or speed up your vaccination, while others offer to get your medication faster. When people fell for it, they were almost certainly out of pocket very quickly.

The scourge of using COVID-19 as part of a scam is unfortunately not going away any time soon. And now the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning of new tactics thieves are using. Read on to find out how to protect your money.

Here’s the backstory

The BBB is warning of scams going around that use the pandemic as bait to rip victims off. These include text messages containing COVID-related discounts, emails about free subscriptions or offers for gift cards or cash.

In one such text message, the BBB points out that criminals try to make it seem as if it is from a genuine company. “COVID-19 REFUND. VERIZON COMPANY is giving out $950 to all users of our Verizon service, If yes kindly text your Verizon,” reads the message.

It is rather easy to see that it isn’t from Verizon, as the message is poorly written and cuts off at the end. The messages are accompanied with a link, which will take you to a spoofed Verizon website.

Hulu and Netflix have also been used in these types of scams. These spoofed text messages attempt to get you to the malicious site where you’ll enter your login credentials. If you do, criminals will be able to access your accounts and even make purchases using your saved payment methods.

What you can do about it

The best way to avoid falling victim is to know the signs of these scams. Here are some suggestions from the BBB:

  • Treat messages from unknown senders with caution. If you receive a message from a number you don’t recognize, be careful. Many companies engage in SMS marketing, but keep in mind that consumers must opt in to receive messages. If you haven’t given a company permission to text you, it’s probably a scam.
  • Don’t click on links from strangers. Scammers often send shortened links that don’t let you see where they really lead in the body of their text message. If you click the link, you could be directed to a dangerous website, or you could download malware onto your device.
  • Confirm deals directly with the company before you accept. If you are really hoping the deal is legitimate, go to the company’s official website and send them an email, or call to inquire. The company can let you know if the deal is real or not.
  • Install antivirus software on your computer and mobile devices. This kind of scam can come from text messages or emails, so make sure all your electronics are protected. Antivirus software can scan for malware and alert you before you open a malicious website link. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Get the Best Security Suite for 2021 and save an exclusive 80% at TotalAV.com/Kim. That’s just $19 for an entire year of protection.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a similar scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your experience can help others recognize these fraudulent tactics before it’s too late.

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