WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Better Business Bureau is warning the public about multiple contact tracing scams.
The BBB says scammers are taking advantage of people’s fears about contracting the coronavirus as public health officials roll out contact tracing programs.
These programs are developed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by informing people who may have come in contact with someone who has tested positive.
According to the BBB, the scam takes two forms – through messages or via phone call.
The unsolicited messages can come via texts, emails or social media messengers. They claim that you’ve come in contact with someone with COVID-19, you’re instructed to self-isolate and link is provided to learn more details. Don’t click the link. It may contain malware that downloads to your device.
The phone version of the scam involves a robocall claiming to be part of “contact and tracing efforts,” according to the BBB. Again, the call informs you that you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. After electing to speak to a representative, the “contact tracer” asks you to verify personal information. While contact tracers do normally reach out by phone, be sure to hang up if the caller doesn’t meet certain guidelines.
The BBB says this how to tell a real contact tracer from a scammer:
· Contact tracers will ask you to confirm your identity, but not for financial information. Tracers will ask you to confirm your name, address, and date of birth. In most cases, they will already have this information on file. They will also ask about your current health, medical history, and recent travels. They will not ask for any government ID numbers or bank account details.
· Contact tracers will identify themselves: The call should start with the tracer providing their name and identifying themself as calling from the department of health or another official team.
· Contact tracing is normally done by phone call. Be extra wary of social media messages or texts.
· A real contact tracer will never reveal the identity of the person who tested positive. If they provide a person’s name, you know it’s a scam.
· Think the link may be real? Double check the URL. Scammers often buy official-looking URLs to use in their cons. Be careful that the link is really what it pretends to be. If the message alleges to come from the local government, make sure the URL ends in .gov (for the United States) or .ca (for Canada). When in doubt, perform a separate internet search for the website.