Coronavirus social media challenges leading to online scams

Authorities warn the public to be mindful of what they share on social media

Black woman

The coronavirus pandemic is killing people and ruining the economy but scammers have decided that this is a ripe opportunity for them to exploit the crisis by using social media challenges.

READ MORE: Fox News faces lawsuit for downplaying coronavirus

PEOPLE reported Thursday that online scams are using the COVID-19 health crisis to gain access to personal information. They are targeting those who engage in the various social media challenges like the pushup and couple’s challenges that have become popular and entertained people throughout the quarantine.

“One of the most recent ones is, ‘Share a picture of every car you have ever owned,’” the Lafayette Police Department wrote on its Facebook page. “This may seem like a fun trip down memory lane, but this information can be used by someone to gain access to your personal information.”

Other “challenges” that include requests that might lead to scammers taking advantage are the streets you grew up on, your mother’s maiden name and your favorite foods. Those are the kinds of details that people use in passwords and in password change requests.

The Lafayette police urged due diligence.

“As fun as these challenges/questionnaires may seem, we encourage you not to participate and protect your personal information,” the police wrote. “Please be especially wary of posts which ask you to copy and paste the post. This allows the original posters to look at the accounts of everyone who has copied and pasted their information.”

Scammers are also sending texts that make people believe loved ones have contracted the fatal virus.

“Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate/get tested,” the text states, followed by a link.

People should not click on the link, authorities say.

“It is not a message from any official agency,” the Thomaston police department wrote on its Facebook page. “It is however a gateway for bad actors to find their way into your world.”

READ MORE: Black scientists to test antiviral drug to treat coronavirus

“The virus is not the only invisible enemy. Be vigilant against all threats.”