BBB: New scams target us under stay at home orders with fake COVID-19 “mandatory testing”

Updated: Apr. 8, 2020 at 6:53 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A warning tonight: Don’t be tempted to click COVID-19 “mandatory testing" links.

“We’ve learned in the last few years that they work on fear and panic. If there was ever a ripe opportunity it’s during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fear and panic are paramount in people’s minds right now,” Tom Bartholomy from Charlotte’s Business Bureau said Wednesday.

With most people under stay at home orders, Bartholomy said many are isolated, and as a BBB study found back in February, those who want to trick you online, work overtime when people are isolated.

“So when you get a phone call just hang up. If you get that email that text or something that appears on social media, that’s the time to take a breath, and say I need to check on this further. I need to check I need to call a relative. I need to talk to a friend," he suggests.

Bartholomy says as the COVID-19 crisis has evolved, so have the scams. Last week they were trying to get people to buy masks online, only to be duped. He said there was even a scam about toilet paper on some social media sites.

The latest one, Bartholomy says, is the most disturbing.

“Now it’s switched to testing. People are getting text messages and ads in their social media that there is mandatory testing for COVID 19 and ‘click here’ for how you can get your test done. It’s a lie! It’s classic click bait and switch.They’re preying on people’s fears and their panic to get them to click on that link. Two bad things can happen to you at that point. Either malware will be inserted onto your device and it’s going to shut that device down. Or it’s going to put a bot into your system that’s going to steal your identity, extract information from your computer," Bartholomy said.

Bartholomy can’t stress enough the importance of having reliable sources, like WBTV, for information regarding guidelines during this difficult time.

“These people are just evil! They’re going to the opportunity to take advantage of us,” he said.

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