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BBB issues warning for new scam related to COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 9:32 AM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 10:23:01-04

BOISE, Idaho — Congress is currently discussing a proposed federal stimulus package that would include sending Americans a check to offset lost income from the coronavirus outbreak. However, scammers are already using the news to create the latest con tied to the pandemic.

The Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker is already seeing reports of government imposters reaching out by phone discussing the grant checks, asking victims to provide their personal and banking information. Most people have reportedly received these messages via social media, either through direct message or a shared post, claiming you qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant.

With all the talks about a government relief check in the news, many are believing it to be true and end up clicking on a link to learn more. The link leads to what looks to be an official-looking website asking you to enter your personal information, claiming it’s necessary in order to verify your identity and process your grant check.

Other variations of the scam include people being contacted via text message and phone calls. In one social media post, the scam targets seniors by claiming to have a special grant to help pay medical bills. All of these lead to requests of personal information. In other versions, scammers claim you can get additional money or expedited funds if you pay a “small processing fee” upfront

Example of scam text

BBB is reminding everyone that government agencies do not communicate through social media avenues, like Facebook. Stay wary of unsolicited messages.

Do not pay any money for a "free" government grant. If you have to pay money to claim a "free" government grant, it is not really free. A real government agency will not ask you to pay an advanced processing fee. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is found here.

Check for look-alikes. Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Find contact information on your own, and call them to be sure the person you’ve heard from is legitimate.

BBB has a number of resources to help you protect your identity and money. You can find those resources here.