Coronavirus texting scams: 5 ways to protect yourself on your phone

Regardless of what sort of phone you employ, all of us obtain rip-off and spam textual content messages. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Scammers and spammers are already feeding off public fears of the coronavirus pandemic to scare individuals into turning over sensitive personal information and money. Working from house places individuals at better threat from hackers trying to take advantage of an unsettling world scenario. Calls and texts providing potential remedies or take a look at kits or claiming to be from the Social Security Administration are on the rise. As one instance, this week Android Police contributor Corbin Davenport received an obvious spoof text message from somebody posing as his financial institution.

The Federal Communications Commission has outlined a few of the COVID-19 scams it’s identified, and the Federal Trade Commission also has a list of common scams which were reported. Even the FBI has issued a warning for COVID-19 stimulus package scams.

COVID-19-related messages are just one sort of textual content rip-off; for instance, scammers additionally ship out messages claiming your iCloud account has been hacked in a bid to trick you into handing over your account data. Armed with that data, they’ll then use it to take over your phone number or entry your on-line accounts. 

Below are some normal recommendations on what to do — and what not to do — if you obtain a spam textual content.

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Don’t open any hyperlinks

Scammers are difficult. They’ll ship messages that look like from a authentic firm, similar to your wi-fi service, financial institution or medical facility, and embrace a hyperlink asking you to confirm your account data. The hyperlink then takes you to a website which will look actual, however is definitely faux. The object is to gather your username, password and different private data for future use. 

If you obtain an surprising message that features a hyperlink, don’t open it. If you occur to open it, don’t enter any account particulars or private data. 

Look at this faux Verizon website that was being utilized in phishing makes an attempt, as coated by How To Geek. The website seems actual and even redirects to the official Verizon website after the nefarious actors have taken your account credentials. Scary stuff. 


Don’t click on on hyperlinks in spam messages, and do a little analysis earlier than replying cease.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Do analysis earlier than replying with STOP

One frequent methodology of opting out of receiving non-nefarious spam texts (like that restaurant providing the free milkshake) is to answer to the message with “STOP.” It is usually a fast and simple approach to finish messages from the whole lot from a political marketing campaign to your web service supplier. 

But scammers use this identical instrument to trick you into replying to their messages, in flip letting them know that your phone quantity is legitimate and one they’ll goal with extra messages or robocalls. 

Instead of rapidly replying STOP to an unsolicited message, take a couple of seconds to lookup the quantity on-line to see if a acknowledged group or enterprise makes use of it for textual content messages. 

I verified Comcast’s quantity, for instance, by looking for “text from 266278” after receiving a message a couple of weeks in the past asking if I wished updates about an outage in my space. Indeed, the number I received the message from matched a quantity Comcast lists on its assist web page. 

If you confirm {that a} quantity is legitimate, reply with STOP to take away your self from their distribution checklist. 


Report rip-off messages to your service. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Report a nasty message to your service

If you possibly can’t confirm who despatched a message, or it is clearly a rip-off, you possibly can ahead the message to 7726 (it spells “spam” on a phone’s keypad). 

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon all settle for spam studies via this quantity. You might obtain a follow-up message after reporting a message, asking for extra data or to verify the quantity the unique message was despatched from. 

Some carriers, such as Sprint, will even block the quantity from messaging you after you have reported it. 

Use your phone’s built-in blocking instrument

Another possibility is to dam the quantity your self. Both iOS and Android have built-in instruments to dam messages and calls from particular numbers. 


You can at all times block the quantity. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

iPhone customers

On an iPhone, open the message within the Messages app and faucet on the profile picture on the high, then faucet on the Info button. On the subsequent display screen, faucet on the phone quantity adopted by Block this Caller on the backside of the subsequent display screen. 

Following these steps will block the quantity from each messaging and calling you. 


Google Messages will take further steps to investigate and determine spam. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Android customers

As is often the case with Android phones, the method to dam a quantity will range relying on who makes your phone and which message app you are utilizing. 

If you are utilizing Google’s Messages app, begin by opening the spam message, then tapping on the menu button within the top-right nook and choosing Details from the checklist of choices. On the next display screen, choose Block & report spam adopted by OK. The Messages app will ship the quantity and the 10 earlier messages from it to Google for evaluation to enhance future spam detection. Your replies to the quantity should not despatched to Google. If you’d fairly simply block the quantity, uncheck the field subsequent to “Report spam” earlier than tapping OK

Samsung Messages customers might want to open the dialog, faucet on the three-dot menu within the top-right nook and choose Block quantity > Block

Samsung Galaxy S20

If you might be routinely aggravated, file a report with the FCC. 

Angela Lang/CNET

File a criticism with the FCC

If you need to assist fight present and future spam messages, and also you’re within the US, you possibly can file a criticism with the Federal Communications Commission everytime you obtain a message that falls into considered one of these three classes: 

  • An unsolicited industrial textual content message
  • An automated message despatched to your phone with out your prior consent
  • An automated message from a telecommunications firm, or one other firm promoting a telecommunications firm’s services or products despatched with out your prior consent

Visit this site to file a complaint with the FCC. It will not instantly cease messages from arriving in your phone, however it can no less than assist the FCC monitor down unhealthy actors.

Just as you do not have to cope with spam messages, you do not have to cope with robocalls both. You will not have the ability to put an finish to them for good, however you possibly can no less than cut back on the number of times your phone rings. And keep in mind, there are many red flags when it comes to coronavirus scams, so be sure you know all of them. While you are at it, take a couple of minutes to secure your wireless account to prevent SIM swap fraud

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Originally revealed final month. Updated with new data.

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