Attorney General Chris Carr is warning Georgians that scammers are using fraudulent websites, texts and emails to steal consumers’ personal or financial information and/or to install malware on their devices.
“Scammers are pursuing different angles related to the Coronavirus pandemic to commit identity theft, create chaos and steal people’s money,” cautions Attorney General Carr. “People should be very wary of messages containing links or requests for their personal or financial information.”
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has received complaints about text messages that state “Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 and recommends you self-isolate/get tested. More at COVID-19anon.com/alert.” The website people are directed to asks them to enter their phone number. This is concerning because the person or organization running this website is anonymous, and this is just one of many suspicious websites out there. There are currently well over 110,000 suspicious COVID-19-related domains registered. Some of these fraudulent websites have been set up to collect bank account information, email addresses and passwords.
Similarly, there have also been reports of emails that purport to be from hospitals, warning consumers that they may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. In this scenario, the scam emails contain an Excel file attachment, which, when downloaded, installs malware on the recipient’s device. The malware may allow the attackers to steal log-in credentials for sites you have visited, look for open shares on the network and view all documents and folders, receive your IP address, and steal cryptocurrency wallet information.
Consumers should also watch out for emails, text messages and robocalls about COVID-19 stimulus money that appear to come from the U.S. Treasury, but which may actually be coming from scammers who are impersonating government officials. In these scams, consumers are told that to receive stimulus money they should click on a link or go to a website, where they are then directed to enter their personal and financial information. Remember – the vast majority of economic impact payments will be distributed automatically, with no action required from most people.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division cautions consumers not to click on any links or go to websites that come from unsolicited texts, emails or phone calls. Instead, consumers should get their information from legitimate websites, such as:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – cdc.gov
- Georgia Department of Public Health – dph.georgia.gov
- IRS – irs.gov/coronavirus
Consumers can also call the Georgia Coronavirus Hotline at (844) 442-2681.