SCAM ALERT: Contact tracers aren’t asking for cash, sending out links or robocalls

SCAM ALERT: Contact tracers aren’t asking for cash, sending out links or robocalls
The Better Business Bureau alerted the public to messages sent by scammers impersonating contact tracers. (Source: Better Business Bureau)

(WAFB) - The Better Business Bureau (BBB) wrote about scammers impersonating COVID-19 contact tracers to phish sensitive, personal information from members of the public.

These phishing attempts come in the form of unsolicited text messages, emails, and social media messages which claim the recipient came into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The recipient is advised to click on a link included in the message. That link may contain malware, the BBB wrote.

Another version of the scam comes in the form of a robocall.

These calls prompt the recipient to speak with a representative to discuss recommendations because they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

The “representative” on the other end of the line then requests that the call recipient verify some personal information which includes full name and date of birth.

However, the questions quickly move to personally identifiable information and information about financial accounts, the BBB wrote.

The BBB says it’s best to hang up or ignore messages that don’t meet the guidelines described below.

  • 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. They also will not share how that information was obtained.
  • 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.

Officials in Louisiana previously said 877-766-2130 is the only number state contact tracers will be calling from.

This is the only phone number that will be used by contact tracers in Louisiana.
This is the only phone number that will be used by contact tracers in Louisiana. (Source: WAFB)

Louisianans are encouraged to save the number in their phone so they will know it’s state health officials contacting them and not a scam.

Information shared with contact tracers is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Read also: Other scams related to COVID-19

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