April 29, 2020
You might be seeing text messages promising money – maybe the economic impact payments, loans for small businesses, or an offer for money you can get. In fact, I recently saw a WhatsApp text message in Spanish that advertised money for people quarantined at home. If you’ve spotted messages like this, I hope you’ve also deleted them. These text messages going around could lead you to a scam or a hacker, but not to anything helpful.
It’s important to remember that scammers will go to any length to make their message seem real. This particular text had the logo of the Executive Office of the President of the U.S. – a typical scammer tactic to make a message look affiliated with the government. It also had a list of people who could supposedly apply for the government grant – basically anyone – and had misspellings and cut off sentences. Now, not all scammers have bad grammar or spelling – but it’s a good tip-off to a scam when you see them. Also, when it comes to economic impact payments and other pandemic recovery help, the government is not reaching out via text, phone, email, or messages to your social media. If you spot one: pretty likely it’s a scam.
So, if you get text messages claiming to be related to the government’s help for people affected by the Coronavirus:
- Do not click on any links.Clicking could expose you to scams, download malware, or get your phone number added to lists that are then sold to other bad actors.
- Delete those text messages immediately.
- If you have questions about the federal government’s economic impact payment, go to irs.gov/coronavirus.
Report any suspicious text message to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. Your report matters. It helps stop scams and alert people about them.