Although it’s hard to believe, there are many criminals taking advantage of the coronavirus. Federal and local officials are warning people to be on high alert and watch out for scams during the pandemic, including suspicious phone calls from some scammers posing as contact tracers. Many individuals have already received phone calls from criminals, asking for Social Security numbers and bank account information.
Health departments are using contact tracing to prevent the spread of the infectious COVID-19 virus. It involves identifying people who have been exposed, which are identified as contacts, or people who have the disease, which are identified as cases.
Contact tracers will only reach out to individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and their recent contacts. Officials say that a legitimate contact tracer will only ask for your name and date of birth, as well as information about other people you have been in close contact with recently.
To help you stay safe, here is what to do if you receive a call, text, or email from someone who identifies as a contact tracer:
- Never give callers your Social Security number, bank account number, immigration status, address, or other personal and financial information.
- Never make any kind of payment to anyone representing themselves as a contact tracer.
- Beware of suspicious links and attachments in emails or texts relating to contact tracing and COVID-19.
- Remember that scammers can spoof phone numbers and email address to make them look genuine.
- Avoid clicking on links in ads or on social media posts about contact tracing.
- Only click on links through legitimate government official websites.
- Do respond to legitimate contact tracers to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
If you have received a suspicious phone call, please contact the LA County Department of Health at (833) 540-0473 to check the caller’s credentials, and report the call to the FTC at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/GettingStarted#crnt.
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