During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the St. Louis region has seen a surge in phishing scams reported to Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker.
Since March 2020, phishing scams are the second most common scam reported to Scam Tracker by consumers in the St. Louis region, trailing only online purchase scams.
Phishing is when you receive a suspicious email or text message instructing you that you may have won something or asking you to do something. The company may say it needs to verify personal information. Links in the email or text message may put a virus on your computer or mobile device to hunt for your sensitive data.
A number of consumers recently reported receiving text messages telling them they have a package owed to them.
The text begins with the recipient’s name and continues: “we came across a package from (random month) owed to you. Please claim ownership and confirm for delivery here.” At the end of the message is a URL.
Clicking the link to the URL could open the user to the possibility of a virus or they may be asked to input personal identifying information.
“The pandemic has given scammers a number of different ways to attack unsuspecting consumers,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “We need to approach any unsolicited communication – be it a text, email or phone call – with a healthy dose of skepticism.”
BBB offers these tips for those targeted in phishing scams:
- If something sounds suspicious, confirm it by calling the company directly or checking the company website. Don’t click on links in an unexpected text or email – type the URL for the company into your browser or do a web search to find the right website.
- Don’t click, download, or open anything that comes from an anonymous sender. This is likely an attempt to gain access to your personal information or install malware on your computer.
- Be cautious of generic emails and text messages. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails and text messages. Always be wary of unsolicited messages that don’t contain your name, last digits of your account number or other personalizing information.
- Report it. If you have been targeted in a phishing scam, report it to BBB ScamTracker and the Federal Trade Commission.
For more information about COVID-related scams, visit bbb.org or call 888-996-3887.
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