Fraudsters posing as contact tracers have been exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to ascertain personal information from residents in the region.
Multiple reports of scammers posing as COVID-19 contact tracers have been reported since the pandemic began, prompting officials to issue an alert and provide guidance on how to avoid becoming a victim.
Officials said that the imposters claim to work on behalf of local law enforcement or health departments and are required to install contact tracing software onto their victims’ computers.
The scammers have threatened fines, asked for personal financial information, and on occasion attempt to get inside their victims’ homes to then steal identities or money.
Anyone who believes they may be the victim of a scheme has been instructed to call their local police department.
Health officials said residents should never pay a contact tracer, give out their social security number, or financial information. Residents should not share immigration statuses either, as legitimate contract tracers do not need and will not ask for this information.
“Contact tracing is actually an important component of public health and an essential tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases,” officials noted.
“If you agree to participate, you may elect to receive daily health assessment reminders via text, email, or phone. You will be reminded to do a simple assessment of your symptoms each day.
“It is important to note that all information collected is kept strictly confidential. Contacts who are identified will not be given information on cases (such as the name of the person who may have exposed them).”
Here are other steps you can take to protect yourself from text scammers, from the FTC:
- Protect your online accounts by using multi-factor authentication. It requires two or more credentials to log in to your account, which makes it harder for scammers to log in to your accounts if they do get your username and password;
- Enable auto-updates for the operating systems on your electronic devices. Make sure your apps also auto-update so you get the latest security patches that can protect from malware;
- Back up the data on your devices regularly, so you won’t lose valuable information if a device gets malware or ransomware.
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