June 15th, 2020 - Telecom
By Jim Tyrrell, Director of Product Marketing, TNS
In this time of uncertainty, we need to be extra suspicious of unknown phone numbers because not even a pandemic will stop scammers. They work fast and we have seen numerous schemes pop up surrounding COVID-19. Here are just a few:
Medical Supply and Home Test Kits
TNS has received many reports of someone trying to sell an at-home Coronavirus test kit, supplements and other various medical supplies. These are not legitimate and potentially dangerous. Some reported a phone call while others reported receiving a text message with a suspicious link. Just as you should never open a link from an unknown email address, you should never open a link sent to you by an unknown number. These texts often look like this:
Student Loan Forgiveness
Everyone has been affected by the virus in different ways. For college students, many want to receive loan forgiveness as they had to leave classes early and feel as if they are not receiving the education they have paid for.
Scammers are preying upon these college students – many of which are desperate for financial help – by promising debt forgiveness. Student loan forgiveness is not offered over the phone, one would have to apply for it and the chances of receiving loan forgiveness are slim.
Another scam that is very common but has escalated due to the Coronavirus: healthcare scams. Many people have reported receiving harassing calls from someone attempting to sell them health insurance while phishing for their personal information. We have also seen reports of scammers claiming to be from a hospital just to try and sell you insurance.
As unemployment rises, scammers have put a new spin on the classic job offer call. Many have reported receiving a phone call selling a program that will fulfill your requirements to become a nurse.
One of these callers leads you to a website where they claim you can buy all the courses you need to become a registered nurse for the great price of $17.00! The site claims, “pay once and get everything you need” and has the payment processing on the home page. Schools don’t ask for payment on their website’s home page – these are the red flags one must look for when determining if a caller is trustworthy or not. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) files regarding this website show a pattern of failure to respond to consumer complaints presented to the company by BBB and failure to eliminate the basic cause of consumer complaints. Complaints concern students not receiving member packets after paying for them, as well as the school not responding to phone calls or emails and getting no refunds.
How to Avoid Scam Calls During COVID-19
TNS is working hard to ensure all legitimate phone numbers belonging to entities sending Coronavirus related alerts are reaching those who are depending on them. These entities include:
Everyone should be wary of calls or texts coming from unknown numbers claiming to be one of the entities listed above. You can confirm if a hospital or government call is legitimate by simply going to their website and seeing if the number matches. Be smart and stay safe!
In addition, consumers can protect themselves by leveraging telecom provider robocall detection solutions powered by TNS Call Guardian.
TNS analyzes robocall data from more than one billion daily call events across hundreds of telecom providers. Because of this volume of data, TNS extracts insights on emerging robocaller tactics and trends.
While it is difficult to predict what the next major robocall scam will be, we do know this: scammers continue to rapidly evolve their tactics and targets to evade detection efforts. This means consumers must remain vigilant when it comes to suspicious incoming calls, and carriers must continue to commit to deploying innovative solutions to protect their subscribers.