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Beware Scam Robocalls, Texts Tied to COVID-19 Outbreak

FCC launches web page with coronavirus fraud safety tips

Hispanic man using cell phone in kitchen to read text message

Getty Images

En español | Scammers out to make a quick buck during the coronavirus pandemic are using robocalls to tout bogus cures and fake test kits, the federal government warns. The illicit conduct — which also includes text messaging — has bad actors preying on people's fears while anxiety over COVID-19 is high.

With a jump in scam phone calls and texts during the pandemic, the government has launched a web page with safety tips for consumers. The site, fcc.gov/covid-scams, was created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Listen to actual coronavirus scam calls

If you visit the website, you can hear audio from actual scams, including:

  • Fraudsters pushing free home testing kits.
  • Scams targeting diabetics who require insulin.
  • Services that purport to clean heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Listen to the audio of an illegal robocall promoting free coronavirus testing kits. This audio is from Federal Communications Commission.


With telecommuting on the rise, anecdotally it seems more and more people are being bombarded with unsolicited robocalls — some related to the pandemic, and others not. People also have reported an opposite problem: Their caller ID displays “spam” or “scam” yet the call is legitimate. That's likely based on their individual telephone carrier's system for labeling incoming calls, or could relate to the operating system of a particular device such as an iPhone, an FCC spokesman says. Contact your telecom provider for more information.

Here's how to file a consumer complaint about illegal robocalls

Online: https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov

Phone: (888) 225-5322

TTY: (888) 835-5322

Videophone: 1-844-432-2275

The FCC says it receives consumer complaints and monitors news reports and consumer alerts from other federal government agencies.

"We're tracking scams and sharing information to arm consumers about how impostors use spoofing and other tactics to steal their money and their identity,” says Patrick Webre, chief of the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. With caller ID spoofing, bad actors disguise the actual phone number used to place the call and substitute a number that is not theirs.

Updates on newly emerging scams

The FCC urges people to check its COVID-19 Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips web page for updates as new scams surface.

For more about scam calls and texts, visit the FCC Consumer Help Center and the FCC Scam Glossary. You also may file a complaint about such scams at fcc.gov/complaints.

AARP’s Fraud Watch Network can help you spot and avoid scams. Sign up for free “watchdog alerts," review our scam-tracking map, or call our toll-free fraud helpline at 877-908-3360 if you or a loved one suspect you’ve been a victim.

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