The current COVID-19 scare has more people working from home than ever before and has put a much stronger reliance on bring your own device (BYOD) as well. So, with more people relying on their phone for work-related activities, it’s no surprise that more cybercriminals are taking advantage of potential new vulnerabilities. Specifically, new vishing and smishing scams are on the rise.

In this article we cover:


Vishing is short for “voice phishing” and smishing is short for “SMS phishing” and are both variations of phishing attacks that target mobile phone users specifically. Email-based phishing attacks originated back in the early 1990’s and employed a technique of social engineering to deceive a user into giving up identity information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details which could then be used to impersonate or defraud that person. Despite efforts to combat these attacks, billions of dollars have been lost to cybercriminals through these scams in the last 30 years.

Vishing attacks are conducted by phone and often leverage the power of Voice over IP (VoIP) services. According to a article titled “Smishing and vishing: How these cyber attacks work and how to prevent them”:

“It’s easy to for scammers to fake caller ID, so they can appear to be calling from a local area code or even from an organization you know. If you don’t pick up, then they’ll leave a voicemail message asking you to call back. Sometimes these kinds of scams will employ an answering service or even a call center that’s unaware of the crime being perpetrated.

Once again, the aim is to get credit card details, birthdates, account sign-ins, or sometimes just to harvest phone numbers from your contacts. If you respond and call back, there may be an automated message prompting you to hand over data and many people won’t question this, because they accept automated phone systems as part of daily life now.”

Smishing attacks are similar to vishing, only use a SMS message to entice the mobile phone owner to click a link or download an app that is usually some form of malware.

COVID-19 Phone Scams

As you can imagine, one of the biggest challenges COVID-19 is opening up is all of the new phone scams to trick consumers and BYOD employees out of money or personal confidential information like credit card numbers, social security numbers and even usernames and passwords. Here are 4 scams you should look out for:

  1. Testing scam(s): Prey on a specific condition like diabetes to offer a bogus testing kit.
    Here is an example:
    “If you are diabetic and using insulin. We can qualify you to get a free diabetic monitor and a complementary testing kit for Corona virus. To learn more please press one otherwise please press two.

  2. Student loan scam(s): Preys on student loan targets but really seems like a debt reduction company doing shady practices.
    Here is an example:
    “Hello this is Brett PJ sick(?) with an important message regarding the effects of the Corona virus outbreak on your student loans as you may have already heard the president shopping-vouchers(?) power as commander in chief by requiring a national emergency due to the widespread impact private(?) 19 new measures will include the interest on your Federal Student Loans until further notice during this time our office has continued to maintain full staffing levels and will continue to do so until further notice. For more information on how these new measures will impact your future payment obligations. Call us back today at 855-264-4711 before 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. Thanks and have a great day.”

  3. Amazon Work From Home (WFH) scam: Preys on consumers who recently lost their job or looking for supplemental income.
    Here is an example:
    “Hello this is a courtesy invitation to work with Amazon from home and make up to $400 a day. Open enrollment has begun for the Amazon associate program. The program allows you to partner with Amazon and share in their success. As a referral partner. Everyone over 18 qualifies. No sales or technical experience or needed work from home you set your own schedule. To learn more about partnering with Amazon called the Amazon hotline at 360-203-1731. Spaces are limited so please call now 360-203-1731 that’s 360-203-1731. Thank you.”

  4. HVAC Scam: Preys on fears of an airborne virus to offer unneeded services.
    Here is an example:
    “Recommend sanitizing your docs and air filters to protect your loved ones from the Corona virus. For only $159 our highly trained technicians will do a full air duck cleaning and sanitation to make sure the air you brief(?) is free of bacteria. So, don’t hesitate. Press zero and have your duck system cleaned and sanitize now. Press nine to be removed from this list”.
How to block robocalls

Avoiding COVID-19 Scams Is Easier Than You Think

Bottomline, you can avoid COVID-19 vishing and smishing in the first place with an app that blocks robocalls as well as scammers and spammers, and it is easier than you think to get started. In fact, it’s free and you can get started today in less than 5 minutes. You shouldn’t have to pay for services like blocking spammers. You also shouldn’t be stuck with the limitations your phone carrier imposes on you.

How to block Spam Calls

How to Stop Robocalls

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12 thoughts on “Protecting From COVID-19 Scams

  1. Very helpful information I hope that as many people out there as can be are privy to such concise and useful information. I have actually been targeted by two of these specific scams fishing or smishing scamhat they’re talking about when was the Amazon scam and the other one was the student loan scam. I now know what to call the SMS messages I received that say I”won” something, when I didn’t enter any sweepstakes, I am able to see B. S. for what it is and block these folks right off. Please keep us all informed in the future as there’s alot of greedy, lazy and crooked people who are more than happy to steal our money if we allow them to. Remember nothing is free! If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. These are some words of wisdom my daddy shared with me, at 55 I’m sharing them with you all, my pop still lives by this wisdom.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Joseph! We’re so glad to hear that we’re able to help you better identify these dangerous scams. You’re absolutely right that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you ever have any questions or suggestions for us, don’t hesitate to Live Chat us at

    1. Hey there Brian!

      Thanks for posting a report for that scam number on the directory. That will help us block them from reaching users in the future.

      Thanks for joining the fight against robocalls!

  2. The 855-264-4711 called me, left voicemail talking about my student loan reimbursement, and that they needed a little more info or do they want me to close out my account. Glad I screen my calls, especially during tax time and now this virus stimulus situation.

  3. I got a call about student loan forgiveness also trying to get me to call back 855-264-4711. Call was from 202-754-8567. It claimed I had an incomplete student loan forgiveness application and programs were available due to the current health crisis (but could be ending soon)

    1. Ah, the classic student loan forgiveness scam! The call that you received is a specific, new variation of the classic and refers to the current pandemic to try to make their message more believable. If you haven’t already, make sure to block the number and report it at

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