NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills because of the coronavirus pandemic, and hackers are preying on that hardship with new texting scams.

As CBS2’s Christina Fan reported Wednesday, there is a warning about three scams prevalent in the Tri-State Area right now.

There’s talk in Washington about more stimulus payments, but politicians aren’t the only ones promising money.

The Internal Revenue Service is warning people about phony text messages promising a direct deposit of $1,200 from the “COVID-19 Treasury Fund.”

“When you click it, it’s going to take you to a different website, not the IRS.gov. It’s going to replicate it. It’ll look just like it,” said Eric Stuerken of credit counseling service Better Qualified.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Stuerken said the phishing scheme is all a ruse to get your personal information, adding recently many of the scams, “Are are all going to be around COVID. You know, people are harping on people’s weaknesses and seeing that, knowing that it’s a key word.”

Another scam to look out for? Fake clinical studies.

The Better Business Bureau says people are receiving a text, email, or social media message, explaining they may qualify for a COVID-19 study paying upwards of $1,000. The agency said if people click on the link, they could download malware onto their device.

“You don’t respond to anybody. You go to their website and you make a call,” Upper West Side resident Debi Gildin said.

“Bottom line, if I didn’t ask for it, I don’t take it,” added Michael Butler of Harlem.

As the holidays approach, experts also warn to be wary of charity fraud schemes, where scammers pose as a real charity or use the name of a real organization to solicit donations from you.

What happens if you inadvertently fell victim to one of these scams? Experts say immediately freeze your credit, close the bank account that is compromised, and closely monitor your credit.

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