Scammers Are Sending Out Thousands of Fake COVID-19 Stimulus SMS

Written by Bill Toulas
Published on December 24, 2020

There are numerous reports about fake COVID-19 stimulus messages arriving on people’s phones via SMS, trying to trick them into clicking on links that lead to malicious websites. This coincides with the actual $1,200 “Economic Impact Payments” relief provisioned by the CARES Act in the United States. The IRS has already issued an official warning about crooks attempting to take advantage of the situation. The scamming continues, though, as desperate people are eager to believe they have received a well-needed amount in these difficult times.

Source: Proofpoint
Source: Proofpoint

The themes reported right now include an “emergency relief deposit” of $500, a promise for a stimulus package, and even a seasonal “Xmas cash” of $2,225. Clicking on the included links will take the recipient to phishing websites that ask for their banking details, supposedly needed for the deposit of the money, and the verification of the beneficiary’s identity. In other cases, loans of up to $48,600 are supposedly offered on very lucrative terms, but of course, all of it is lies wrapped in a truthful packaging.

Source: Proofpoint

Things you can do to protect yourself include registering your number on the “Do Not Call Registry”, report spam messages by forwarding them to 7726, and avoid clicking on links that arrive via SMS. If you want to check and confirm something, visit the website directly by entering the URL on the web browser and do it from there. You may also screenshot the SMS you’ve received and send it via email to “[email protected]” and they’ll take it from there.

Remember, the IRS doesn’t send SMS or email messages asking you to provide your information or threatening a taxpayer with arrest over accusations for any violations. This just never happens as it’s outside the way the agency operates. Some falsely assume that these rules are bypassed due to the emergency and the “peculiarity” that has been introduced to all aspects of our lives courtesy of the pandemic, but this is really not the case.

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