Coronavirus scam robocall targets fears about stock market, economy

CHICAGO (WLS) -- U.S. Attorney General William Barr has urged U.S. Attorneys offices around the country to prioritize the prosecution of coronavirus scammers, and appointed a federal prosecutor to fight COVID-19 fraud.

As the virus has affected the stock market and people's investments, fraudsters are using that fear to get personal and financial information through robocalls.

During uncertain times, you should be on alert of scam calls like these.

"My fellow American, it this is a Republican committee House survey," one call goes. "The coronavirus has just caused the Dow to drop 1,000 this week. Some analysts say this is just the beginning. Are you prepared for this crash? Press one to be connected."

That is one of the first robocalls that used COVID-19 to lure callers into giving up their personal information. The Illinois Republican Party denounced the calls from fakes.

Giula Porter with the robocall prevention app RoboKiller said it's the only fraudulent call of its kind they've found so far, but it's not the last and it's picking up steam.

"You would be connected to a live person and they would continue on with the scam to get your information," she said. "You then might be asked for your financial information, your social security number and other personal information."

RoboKiller said it found that call by using unique audio fingerprinting technology as a weapon to protect its clients.

"Audio fingerprinting is used for all blocked scam calls that Robokiller knows are unsafe calls," Porter explained. "We are blocking those calls before users are getting them and creating an audio fingerprint of the scam. We have these bots jump on the calls that we're blocking for customers and mess with telemarketers. We are creating a footprint of audio trends of that scam that we are keeping in the database, and what that allows us to do is shut down emerging scams."

You should never give out your personal or financial information to anyone you do not know, whether in person, online or over the phone.

The best way to stop illegal robocalls is to block the numbers on your phone or reach out to your cell phone carrier, who may be able to help.
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