EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you get a text message offering a pandemic-related deal — the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns it may be a scam.
People across the country and right here in New England are being targeted, according to the BBB. They’re reportedly receiving texts with a link to the supposed deal, and they appear to be coming from well-known businesses.
“We’re finding that these messages are not originating from the company. This is just another variation of a COVID-19-related scam,” said Paula Fleming, the BBB’s local chief marketing and sales officer.
Here are some examples from the BBB of what to look out for:
- “Due to the pandemic, Hulu is giving everyone a free 1-year subscription to help you stay at home. Get yours here [link].”
- “COVID-19 REFUND. VERIZON COMPANY is giving out $950 to all users of our Verizon service, If yes kindly text your Verizon.”
Often times, customers must opt in to receiving text messages from a company, according to Fleming. When one comes from an unknown source, she advises to be cautious.
“Don’t click on links from strangers. Don’t download any applications or any links onto your device,” Fleming urged.
Fleming said it’s dangerous to click or tap an unsolicited link because it could take the user to an unsafe website or download malware.
“Any program or file that is harmful to your computer or your device is considered malware,” Fleming explained. “Not only could they corrupt what you already have, but there’s a potential for them to download sensitive and personal information.”
If the deal being offered seems intriguing, Fleming said to go directly to the business and ask whether it’s real. There are also programs available to protect your devices.
“Installing antivirus software to your computer and mobile devices is extremely important,” she said. “Making sure that these devices are updated on a regular basis can really protect you from falling victim to any of these and potentially downloading the malware.”
If you received such a text message, in addition to not hitting the link, Fleming said you can report it using the BBB’s Scam Tracker.
“It will allow us to track, if it is transpiring, throughout New England heavily or there is an uptick in any scam,” Fleming added.