Contact tracers are an important part of the fight to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control in New York; and when people have tested positive for the new coronavirus, health officials have begged (or in one case, issued subpoenas) for their most recent contacts, so they can be warned.
Now a new scam going around is trying to steal your money and identity by pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracing.
“They’re trying to steal your identity, your money – or both. Luckily, there are ways to tell the difference between a real contact tracer and a scammer,” said Shameka L. Walker of the Division of Consumer & Business Education at the Federal Trade Commission.
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. legitimate contact tracers may call, email, text, or visit your home to collect information. They may ask you for:
- your name and address
- health information
- the names of places and people you have visited
Scammers will ask you to do more. Here are some things to do to protect yourself from fake contact tracers.
- Don’t pay a contact tracer.
- 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.
What should you do if you think you’re dealing with a fake 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.
The contact-tracer scam is just the latest in a slew of new cons battening on people’s fears about the new coronavirus. In fact, the first warning came out before the outbreak even began in New York. SEE: NY Officials Warn Of Coronavirus Email Scam
Westchester District Attorney Anthony Scarpino warns residents that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are continuing to see scams related to federal coronavirus stimulus payments as well as bogus COVID-19-related products and treatments for sale, charities, and fraudulent investment and job opportunities
“Scammers wake up every day trying to find new ways to take advantage of the unsuspecting. This is their work. Our work is to keep you safe,” Scarpino said. “Don’t fall victim to anyone trying to get money or information from you. You will never receive calls or e-mails from the IRS, the Census Bureau or other federal agency asking for your Social Security or credit card information.”
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