Phone call suspected to be COVID-19-related scam

Published: Mar. 26, 2020 at 7:34 PM MDT
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In her home in New Castle, Wyoming, Patricia Bock answers the phone, and finds the caller on the other end claiming to be calling from the South Dakota Department of Health. The caller asks "Are you willing to take a survey?" Patricia replies, "What is it about?" The caller just asks "Is Patricia your name?" "You should know, you called me." This person then reads Patricia's phone number, and asks: Is this number correct? Patricia is getting a sense that this person is asking a lot of obvious questions, and is trying to get her to say "Yes." And then, she remembers a presentation she attended in New Castle about scam calls. "Never say the words 'Yes' or 'No.' because those can be recorded..., if they're trying to sell you something, nail you something, they have you recorded."

The South Dakota Department of Health confirmed that they were not conducting any survey with the public. This means, it was a stranger pretending to be from the government -- and they knew Patricia's name. "They could've gotten that information a variety of different ways, because there has been so many data breaches," Jessie Schmidt, the South Dakota State Director with Better Business Bureau explains. Some scam calls are using COVID-19 as an excuse to get you talking. For example, some people's hours have been cut due to the virus outbreak. "They're going to try to lure you into this really quick money work from home scheme," says Schmidt. And since there's a potential stimulus plan on the way from the government, Schmidt says, a scam call could be asking for your banking information.

Fortunately, 85-year old Patricia has a strategy: Never give the answers a suspicious stranger expects from you.

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