MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Better Business Bureau is sharing a warning issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Trade Commission regarding contact tracing scams amid the ongoing pandemic.
The scams are designed to steal money and sensitive information from victims, according to a press release.
Contact tracing is a means of identifying people who may have had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The infected person shares information about others they may have had contact with, and contact tracers follow up with those people.
Scammers posing as contact tracers are taking advantage of the opportunity to obtain personal information, according to the press release.
The scams occur via text message or a phone call.
According to the press release, people should watch out for a contact tracer who asks for money or sensitive information like a social security number, bank account information or credit card number.
Contact tracers are normally hired by the state health department.
They contact people to discuss the results of a COVID-19 test, or advise them they had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
Their goal is to identify people that person has had contact with, or who the contact has made contact with, in order to limit the spread of the virus, according to the press release.
In most cases, they will already have your information on file.
They may ask about your current health and medical history, places you’ve visited, recent travels, people you’ve had contact with and whether you live in a group setting.
According to the press release, the text scam involves receiving a text message saying you’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive and instructs the receiver to self-isolate and get tested.
It includes a link with “more information” that downloads malware to the device.
The robocall scam involves a phone call from a fake contact tracer who asks for personal information and payment for some reason.
The BBB gives the following tips to avoid becoming the victim of a contact tracing scam:
• Anyone who asks for money, your Social Security number or your immigration status is a scammer.
• Don’t click on links or attachments in an email or text message that purports to come from a contact tracer.
o Legitimate contact tracers may send a message saying they’ll call, but it won’t include any links.
o A contact tracer won’t tell you the name of the person with COVID-19 you may have been exposed to. If he does, it’s a scam.
• You should cooperate with a legitimate contact tracer.
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