Clever New Scams Arise Amid Coronavirus Fears. Could You Spot Them?

Lots of new warnings surfaced Friday about scammers leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic. We're tracking the cons in real time.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Multiple new advisories and alerts went out Friday, as authorities try to stem another wave of scammers and con artists looking to make a buck during the coronavirus crisis.

FCC: Scammers Targeting Phones

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission launched a new website, aiming to spotlight some of the newest robocaller scams and schemes. Among the highlights:

  • Robocallers promise free COVID-19 test kits delivered to your home. No such kits are being provided, and the caller may try to get private information.
  • Text messages claiming to be from government agencies report a "mandatory nationwide quarantine" and that you should leave to get supplies. These are false, and may include links which, if opened, would allow hackers to take over your phone.
  • Other texts offer a link to get free testing or COVID-19 cures. Again, the links could compromise your phone if you tap them.

You can learn more and listen to some of the bogus robocall messages at

Oakland: Police Warn of Bogus Door-to-Door Testing

Oakland Police on Friday warned of an apparent scheme involving a person going door-to-door and claiming to be an Alameda County employee offering COVID-19 testing. OPD shared this video on Twitter:

Proposed Government Stimulus Checks Lure Crooks

Our colleagues at Telemundo 48 are getting reports of apparent scams going after the stimulus checks promised by President Trump and Congress. Plans for those payments are not yet finalized, so be wary of calls, letters, or knocks at the door making claims about your check. Wait for official word from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

PG&E Cautions Customers of Robocallers

PG&E said Thursday it is tracking an increase in reports of robocallers claiming to represent the utility provider. Similar to a scheme NBC Bay Area was first to report last year, PG&E says impostors use caller ID spoofing to pose as your power company, and may even have billing information about you, like your name and address. The callers may threaten to turn off your power unless you give them immediately over the phone, or they may try to ask for access to your home to fix an alleged problem. PG&E says this isn't how they do business, and they've suspended power shut-offs for non-payment during the pandemic.

Stay Alert - And Check On Seniors

Authorities say we should all be skeptical of any calls, texts, letters, or even front-door visits during the crisis. It's a good idea to check up on any seniors you know as well, as they are often prime targets for scammers. Make sure older neighbors, parents, and grandparents are aware of these and other scams -- and remind them to never share private or financial information over the phone.

Contact Us