HOUSTON – Once again, thieves are using the COVID-19 pandemic to think of new ways to steal your information. Online money scams cost Americans more than $4.2 billion dollars last year. KPRC 2 Investigates has this warning about the most common COVID-related scams in 2021.
Scam #1 - COVID Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payment scam
Thieves call or text to confirm your personal information so you can receive your stimulus check. They are actually just taking your personal information to steal your identity. In some cases, thieves use your information to apply for unemployment benefits.
Scam #2 - COVID Vaccine Registration scam
Watch out for COVID phishing emails. The Better Business Bureau explains how it works: You get a phone call, social media message, or an email saying that you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It appears to come from a friend, a public health official, or someone from a local hospital or clinic. You start to schedule your appointment, but you quickly find there’s a catch. The person who contacted you needs personal information or requires you to pay upfront.
Common COVID scam subject lines to watch out for
- Vaccine registration
- Information about your vaccine
- Vaccine requirements
- In another version, thieves ask you to fill out a COVID-related survey
Scam #3 - Random ZOOM requests
Thieves are also cashing in on the popularity of ZOOM.
You’ll get an email with a ZOOM logo to tell you you’re missing a meeting. When you click on the link hackers can download malicious software on your computer. These links can download malware onto your computer or lead you to a page where you are prompted to enter your login information. Entering your username and password gives scammers access to your account and any other account that uses a similar login and password combination.
What should I do if I click on a phishing link?
Sometimes you don’t realize you clicked on a fake link until you’ve already done it. Don’t panic! Here is what you can do if you click on a phishing link.
- Immediately disconnect from the internet
- While you are disconnected backup your file onto a hard drive
- Turn your computer back on and scan your system for malware
- Change all of your passwords
Scam #4 COVID contact tracing
One popular COVID-related scam that was popular in 2020 involved contact tracing. Real contact tracers will call by phone, not connect by email. The real deal will never ask for money. Our KPRC Investigates team is always watching for this and we will continue to bring you updates to keep you safe!