There is no question that contact tracing plays a vital role in helping to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19. But scammers, pretending to be contact tracers from the health department, are taking advantage of how the process works by sending out fake text messages to potential victims. Unlike a legitimate text message from a health department, which only wants to let you know they will be calling, the fake messages include a link to click, which goes to a malicious website that will infect your computer with a virus or malware, or go to a phishing website that steals personal information, banking information and online account credentials.
What is Contact Tracing?
It’s the process of identifying people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, instructing them to quarantine and monitoring their symptoms daily.
Contact tracers are usually hired by a state’s department of public health. They work with an infected person to get the names and phone numbers for everyone that infected person came in close contact with. Those names and phone numbers are often kept in an online system. People who had contact with someone infected with COVID-19 may first get a text message from the health department, telling them they’ll get a call from a specific number.
The tracer who calls will not ask for banking information, account credentials and personal information, like a Social Security number. Some states ask if the contact would like to enroll in a text message program, which sends daily health and safety reminders until the 14-day quarantine ends. But, tracers won’t ask you for money or information like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.