COVID-19 SMS Phishing Scams
Home COVID-19 Watch Out for COVID-19 Related SMS Phishing Scams

Watch Out for COVID-19 Related SMS Phishing Scams

by Brett M. Christensen

Keep an eye out for fake text messages that appear to be official notifications related to COVID-19.

With so much information about the virus being distributed via so many channels, it might be easy to mistake a scam message for a genuine notification.

The scam SMS take many forms. Some may claim to be official government notifications that link to information about testing or virus safety measures. Others may claim that someone you were in contact with has the virus and you should click a link for more information.  Still others may claim that you are eligible for a stimulus payment or other financial assistance and should follow a link to apply.

Variants may purport to be from your bank and claim that you must verify or update your account details due to new coronavirus policies.

Links in these scam text messages typically open fraudulent websites that try to trick you into divulging account passwords and other personal and financial information. Criminals can use the information you supply to take control of your online accounts, commit credit card fraud, and steal your identity.

The Australian government website ScamWatch has the following tips  for avoiding these types of scams:

  • Don’t click on hyperlinks in text/social media messages or emails, even if it appears to come from a trusted source.
  • Go directly to the website through your browser. For example, to reach the MyGov website type ‘my.gov.au’ into your browser yourself.
  • Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details, even if they claim to be from a reputable organisation or government authority — just press delete or hang up.

Of course, criminals are also using email and social media messages to distribute scams. We all need to be especially vigilant right now.

Examples:

COVID-19 Scam text 1 COVID-19 Scam text 2 COVID-19 Scam text 3

Above images courtesy of ScamWatch

Fake COVID-19 SMS Alert  

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer