SANTA MONICA, CA — Federal and local officials are warning people to be on high alert and watch out for scams during the coronavirus pandemic, including suspicious phone calls from some scammers posing to be contact tracers.
Locals say callers pretending to be a contact tracer have asked for social security numbers and bank account information. A contact tracer will only ask for your name and date of birth, officials said.
“Although the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is doing contact tracing to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, they will never ask you for Social Security numbers, financial information, payment, or anything about your immigration status,” the city of Santa Monica announced in a news release.
“We’re aware that these scams are increasing, but haven’t received any formal complaints,” Andrea Cavanaugh from the city of Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office told Patch.
Health departments use contact tracing to prevent the spread of infectious disease and it involves identifying people who have been exposed, which are identified as contacts, or people who have the disease, which are identified as cases.
“Legitimate contact tracers will reach out to individuals who test positive for COVID-19, and their recent contacts,” officials said. “They will ask for your name and date of birth, and information about anyone with whom you have been in close contact.”
Here’s what to do if you receive a call, text or email from someone who identifies as a contact tracer:
- Never give callers your Social Security number, bank account number, immigration status, or other similar personal financial information, or make any kind of payment to anyone representing themselves as a contact tracer.
- Beware of suspicious links and attachments in emails or texts.
- Remember that scammers can spoof phone numbers and email addresses to make it look like they are legitimate.
- Do not click on links in ads or social media posts about contact tracing.
- Do respond to legitimate contact tracers to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Anyone who receives a suspicious call should contact the LA County Department of Health at (833) 540-0473 to check the caller’s credentials, and report the call to the FTC at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/GettingStarted#crnt.
Full coronavirus coverage: Coronavirus In California: What To Know
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