Catch Of The Week: COVID-19 Survey Scams

An example of some of the COVID-19 vaccine ‘survey’ scams being sent through email or text. If you get an email or text that asks for your personal information and you think it could be a scam, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Courtesy/Becky Rutherford 

By BECKY RUTHERFORD
Los Alamos

COVID-19 continues to be a hot topic for phishing emails/text messages. The latest scam emails and text messages masquerade as a COVID-19 vaccine “survey”, themed to Pfizer, Moderna, J+J, or Astra Zeneca. 

If you use an email provider with good spam protection, like Gmail, you might never see this email. In my case, it went straight to my Gmail account’s spam folder. 

So what’s the point of these phishing emails? If you click the link, you will be taken to a landing page offering you various “rewards” to choose from. And the best part? You only have to pay for shipping and handling! Truly a bargain…

Of course, for anyone who enters their credit card information to claim the “free” reward, there is no reward. It’s a scam. You will be out at least the money for shipping and handling. If you click the link and enter your info, the bad senders know your email account is active and that you are willing to click. Your email account will be targeted for additional scams. 

Survey scams like this are an excellent way for the bad guys to steal your identity/money. A legitimate survey from the CDC or a vaccine manufacturer would not ask for your credit card information or assign a time limit to claim your “reward.” Scammers are well aware people are getting vaccinated in record numbers, and they are capitalizing on it. 

The best thing to do if you get one of these emails is to delete it or report it to your email provider as spam. Never give out your sensitive information, especially not to an unsolicited email or text message. These fake surveys can be incredibly useful to bad guys; they can steal your information, collect data about you to commit identity theft, or potentially install malware on your computer if you click a malicious link.

Here’s some good advice from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

If you get an email or text you’re not sure about:

  • Don’t click on any links or open attachments. Doing so could install harmful malware that steals your personal information without you realizing it
  • Don’t call or use the number in the email or text. If you want to call the company that supposedly sent the message, look up its phone number online

Remember:

  • Don’t give your bank account, credit card, or personal information to someone who contacts you out of the blue
  • You can filter unwanted text messages on your phone, through your wireless provider, or with a call-blocking app

If you get an email or text that asks for your personal information and you think it could be a scam, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

To learn more about COVID-related frauds and scams, visit ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams

Editor’s note: Becky Rutherford works in information technology at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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