The Federal Trade Commission is warning people about scammers that are using the coronavirus pandemic to steal account information. 

The FTC released a report on Tuesday explaining that there are scammers posing as COVID-19 contact tracers. Contact tracers are being used by state health departments to get the names and phone numbers of infected patients. Yet unlike legitimate contact tracing text messages—which only inform the person that they will be receiving a call, the fake texts ask the recipient to click a link. Per the FTC, this link infects the person's phone with a virus allowing scammers to access their personal and banking information.

"The tracer who calls will not ask for personal information, like a Social Security number. At the end of the call, some states ask if the contact would like to enroll in a text message program, which sends daily health and safety reminders until the 14-day quarantine ends," the FTC reports. "But tracers won’t ask you for money or information like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer."

To avoid this, the FTC wants people to use their phone's features to filter these messages before they reach them. For the time being, it may be smart to block messages from unknown senders or spam risks. Also, utilizing the multi-step authentication​​​​ feature for your personal and banking accounts will help limit any hacks. Additionally, people at risk should back up their phone regularly so that they don't lose any information if their device gets infected with malware or ransomware. 

You can read more about how to recognize and report spam texts here.

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