Better Business Bureau warns of texting scams offering money to participate in COVID study

If offer sounds suspicious, call the company directly or check its website

Scam artists have found many ways during the coronavirus pandemic to try and con people out of their money or personal information.

Scam artists have found many ways during the coronavirus pandemic to try and con people out of their money or personal information.

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a new text message claiming to offer $1,200 for participation in a local COVID study.

“We have heard from consumers that there’s a text message going around that says if you participate in the study, you’ll earn $1,200,” said Melanie Duquesnel, president and CEO of eastern Michigan Better Business Bureau. “Now there are lots of reputable survey companies out there that do pay people for their involvement. The difficulty is that you cannot, through a text message, determine if they’re a reputable company.”

Click here to view the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker

When it comes to phishing scams, beware any unsolicited communication. It could be imposters pretending to be trustworthy businesses or agencies “phishing” for private information including social security number, passwords, credit card information.

If an offer sounds suspicious, try to confirm it by calling the company directly or checking its website.

Never click on links or download anything from a text message or email.

“If you clicked on it, and it, in fact, is a scam, shut your phone down. Reboot it so you can clean whatever cookie may have been in there,” Duquesnel said. “If you clicked and put personal information in such as your birth date, your address, your social security number, your driver’s license number, I would go to all three credit bureaus and put an alert on all three of those so if anybody should come and try to use you to their advantage, we can stop them cold.”

Duquesnel also suggests freezing your credit report so no one can run a credit check without your permission.

When signing up for any survey, research the company first. Find out how long it has been around. Does it normally pay for participation?

And if scammed, Duquesnel wants you to know you are not alone.

“There’s thousands, millions of people that have fallen prey to this, so don’t feel stupid. Don’t be shy about letting all these people know that something went wrong. It’s okay. They’re really good at their job of defrauding us all, so just know that get on top of it, get in the driver’s seat, tell people you’ve been hacked, and it’s going to be okay.”

For more scams and preventative tips, click here.

About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.