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Beware of COVID-19 ‘smishing’ scam messages to your phone

There are scammers continuing to use the concerns for the pandemic as a way to take advantage of others.

Scammers are using “smishing” — messages to sent to personal cell phones — to cause fear and then steal from the person who received it.

You might have heard about phishing attacks, which are emails with unknown links. “Smishing” is when dangerous links in messages are sent via SMS or text message.

The goal is to get your personal information and to steal your identity.

By accessing your device, scammers could collect any stored information as well.

A message might say say someone who you came in contact with has the coronavirus or is showing symptoms.

No one wants to see a message like that, and that text isn’t from a contact tracer. Instead, it’s likely someone out to steal your identity and money.

“Smishing” is a new twist on a scam that’s playing off the public’s fears over COVID-19 and potential exposure to it.

Messages will go on to recommend you isolate and get tested.

Here’s the “gotcha”: There is a link for more information, but that link could lead to trouble, says Alex Pham, a cybersecurity expert.

“There are many risks, one risk being that, if you press a bad link, you could potentially download malware, viruses, worms that could leave back doors open for hackers and take your information for harmful purposes,” Pham said.

Remember to:

  • Check message origination
  • Don’t click on unknown links
  • Don’t give personal or financial information
  • Don’t panic
  • Check government sources such as the county or state health departments for accurate information, and protect your personal information.

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Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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