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Scam Alert: BBB warns of "mandatory online COVID-19 test" text message scam

The text message pressures you to click on a weblink to take a "mandatory online COVID-19 test." There is no online test for coronavirus.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Scammers are using the coronavirus pandemic to take advantage of people nationwide. The Better Business Bureau is receiving several reports about coronavirus scams. That includes fake masks, fake government grants, and fake mandatory COVID-19 tests.

According to the BBB, you get a text message on your cell phone. The text might even look like it's from the U.S. federal government. But, it's not. Scammers are reportedly pretending to be the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The text message pressures you to click on a weblink to take a "mandatory online COVID-19 test." But, to be clear, there is no online test for coronavirus.

The BBB has also received reports of texts urging people to complete "the census" or fill out an online application to receive a stimulus check. But, whatever you do, do not click on the weblink in the text message. If you do, scammers will download malware to your device, access your personal information, and put you at risk for identity theft. 

If you spot a scam, report it to the BBB by using the ScamTracker. The report might help someone else avoid falling victim to the scam.

The BBB offers the following tips to spot the COVID-19 text message scam: 

  • Government agencies do not typically communicate through text messages.
  • Ignore instructions to text "STOP" or "NO" to prevent future texts. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number. 
  • If you think your text message is real, be sure it's directing to a web address like "agency.gov" or "agency.ca," not "agency.otherwebsite.com." 
  • Check for look-alikes. Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Find contact info on your own and call them to be sure the person you've heard from is legitimate.