Better Business Bureau warning against COVID-19 text message scams

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Better Business Bureau is warning against scams that you may be receiving as text messages.

KOLR10’s Madison Hever talked with the BBB about why these ones are different than the ones that came before.

The BBB says these scam text messages are easy to fall for, especially if you’ve lost your job or are strapped for cash heading into the holiday season.

Stephanie Garland with the Better Business Bureau says these scams are nothing new but they do have a new attention grabber: COVID-19.

“They’re taking an old scam that’s been around for many years and putting a new twist to it,” Garland said. “One version of this is where scammers are sending out text messages, prompting their participation in clinical studies.”

She says these “clinical studies” the scammers are talking about may seem like a good gig but are actually dripping with insincerity.

“Of course you’re never going to pay to be a part of a clinical trial,” Garland said. “The message includes a link to see whether or not you qualify for the study and if you do click it, you unknowingly could download right onto your smart device, malware. This may seem like a fantastic idea especially if you lost your job. No matter how curious you are, do not click on that link. It actually gives scammers access to your usernames, passwords, if you log into your credit union or bank account via app on your phone or via web browser it allows access to scammers to steal your account information.”

And she says the scammers are targetting anyone they can get their hands on that has a smartphone.

But we’ve also heard of a similar texting situation from a viewer in the Ozarks.

This viewer posted on Facebook saying they never got tested but received what looked to be a scam text message from someone claiming to be the Springfield-Greene County Health Department.

“We’ve started that text message system so we can reach out to people,” Katherine Wall with the health department said. “Keep in mind this is a phone number given to the lab at the time of the test. So, you would’ve expected to get a test result back in this time frame as well. Is it you or is it someone in your household that would’ve used your phone number at the time of testing?”

Both Wall and Garland say to do your research.

Call the hotline if you suspect a scammer is pretending to be the health department and go to clinicaltrials.gov to search clinical trials or contact the Better Business Bureau.

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