Contact Tracing Scams

Contact tracing leading to credit card fraud has increased significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Contact tracing has ramped up significantly with a number of mobile apps and manual programs in lieu of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The objective is to identify and advise those who have come into contact with coronavirus-infected individuals. In order for this to run effectively, officials need to make numerous calls and send many text alerts to potentially affected citizens.

As a result, warnings across the United States are alerting individuals of a new phishing scam. Scammers are presenting themselves as COVID-19 contact tracers leading to credit card fraud and identity theft.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau and state law enforcement agencies throughout the country have issued several alerts with respect to phone calls, texts and emails to solicit private information.

According to CNBC, “Americans have lost more than $100 million to coronavirus-related fraud this year.”

Legitimate Contact Tracers

Legitimate tracers generally work or volunteer for health departments. Their function is to contact COVID-19 patients to track symptoms, assist with advice pertaining to isolation regulations and work to identify others that were in contact with the virus.

This public health initiative is one of a number of strategies that has been employed to help contain further spread of the virus while specialists work towards treatments and vaccines.

Legitimate tracing has been employed in most countries and shows positive results with respect to containing the virus.

An authorized contact tracer may ask you to provide names, contact numbers and email addresses of those you may have come into close contact with over a specified period. They will not disclose any personal information pertaining to the person who tested positive and initiated the tracing effort. In addition, an authorized tracer should have all the necessary information to provide details of testing locations, contact numbers and other such critical information.

Contact Tracing Scam Red Flags

If you receive a text with a link from a supposed contact tracer it should raise a red flag. This is an obvious phishing scam designed to get users to download malware on their device. Local health officials will only send a text message to advise citizens to expect a call from the relevant authorities.

A caller that requests you to provide your Social Security number should immediately be treated as a scam. Legitimate tracers will never ask you to provide this information. In fact, it is advisable to never give out your Social Security Number over the phone to anyone.

If a caller provides you names and details of the infected person they claim led them to you, you can be sure it is a scam. That kind of information is private and confidential and legitimate tracers do not divulge such information.

Lastly, if a caller requests banking or credit card information, or payment, you can immediately write it off as a scam. Contact tracing does not require any of this information for payments.

Protect Against Contact Tracing and Credit Card Fraud

There are a number of ways to protect yourself from contact tracing and credit card fraud. Start by raising your awareness of the huge number of scams that are out there. Don’t believe all communication you receive, whether by phone, text message or mail. Ignore communication received from unknown and unverifiable sources. Don’t click on any links received from unknown numbers. Instead, delete those messages right away. Don’t share any private information, including your personal details and Social Security number. Lastly, don’t share your card or banking information or send money to any institution without verifying its source.

If you think you are the victim of a fake check or money order scam, contact the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack