Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins is warning Mainers to be on alert for criminals attempting to use fraudulent text messages about COVID-19 to gain access to their personal information.
Through this scam, which was reported by the Thomaston Police Department after an officer was targeted, criminals are sending text messages alleging that the recipient has come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or has exhibited symptoms. The message recommends that the person self-isolate and get tested. While the associated link claims to provide more information, authorities warn it is actually an attempt by scammers to gain access to the individual’s valuable personal information.
This text message scam is the latest in a series of coronavirus-related phone, text, and email scams seeking to trick or scare consumers into sharing personally identifiable information or paying a fee in exchange for a stimulus check, a Paycheck Protection Program loan, a non-existent COVID-19 vaccine, or donating to a fake charity.
“Putting a stop to scams that seek to rob Americans of their personal information and hard-earned money is one of my top priorities,” said Senator Collins. “It is despicable that these criminals are using this crisis for their own gain. I urge the public to be wary of phone calls, texts, or emails from unknown sources that demand you to take immediate action.”
The Federal Communications Commission offers the following tips to protect yourself from scams:
- Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
- Never share your personal or financial information via email or text messages.
- Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
- Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren't hacked.
- Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick you into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
- Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.
The Aging Committee, which Senator Collins chairs, has held 25 hearings in the past seven years to examine scams affecting older Americans and releases an annual Fraud Book outlining the top 10 scams reported to the Committee’s Fraud Hotline.
If you receive a fraudulent call, text message, or email, you can report it to the Aging Committee’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.