LOGAN – Scammers are back. This time they are posing as health department officials.
Shameka L. Walker, an attorney for the Division of Consumer & Business and Education at the Federal Trade Commission, wants to warn people of a COVID-19 related scam being perpetrated by people claiming to be calling on behalf of the local health department.
After months of stay-at-home orders, cities across the country are starting to open up and people are on the move again.
There is still plenty of coronavirus lurking in cities and towns; with new cases popping up here and there, it is necessary to track the sickness.
“Contact tracers, the folks who work for the state health departments to try to track anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, are an important part of the road to recovery,” Walker said. “Some scammers are pretending to be contact tracers so they can profit from the current confusion.”
She said there are ways to tell the difference between a real contact tracer and someone trying to take advantage of unsuspecting people.
“A contact tracer might get in touch to discuss results of a test you know you took, or because someone you’ve been in contact with tested positive,” Walker said. “Depending on how your state has set up its program, legitimate contact tracers may call, email, text, or visit your home to collect information.”
This is the type of information a legitimate contract tracer may ask for:
- your name and address
- health information
- the names of places and people you have visited
Scammers will ask for more information. Here are some things to do to protect yourself from fake contact tracers.
- Don’t pay a contact tracer. Anyone who says you need to pay is a scammer, plain and simple.
- Don’t give your Social Security number or financial information. There’s no reason for a legit contact tracer to need your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number.
- Don’t share your immigration status. Legit contact tracers don’t need — and won’t ask for — this information.
- Don’t click on links or download anything sent from a contact tracer. Real tracers will only send you texts or emails that say they’ll be calling you — not ask you to click or download anything.
If you think you’re dealing with a fake contact tracer? Check with your state health department to see if they have a way to make sure the person contacting you is a real contact tracer. Hang up, close the door, or don’t respond to, click on, or download anything that may be in an email or text. Then, report it to your state and tell the FTC about it at FTC.gov/complaint.