PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Attorney General's Office and the Federal Trade Commission are warning people to be on the lookout for fake contact tracers.
Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, instructing them to quarantine and monitoring their symptoms daily.
Contact tracing is so new, officials worry scammers will try and take advantage and use it as a way to get your social security number, bank account or credit card number.
Scammers are sending emails and text messages with links to fraudulent websites. Clicking on the link may download software onto a device, giving them access to an array of your personal and financial information.
“Contact tracing is an effective tool used to help stop the further spread of COVID-19. I find it to be particularly evil for scammers to be taking advantage of this essential public health tool during these difficult times,” said Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, contact tracers are usually hired by a state’s department of public health. They work with an infected person to get the names and phone numbers for everyone that infected person came in close contact with while the possibly infectious. Those names and phone numbers are often kept in an online system.
People who had contact with someone infected with COVID-19 may first get a text message from the health department, telling them they’ll get a call from a specific number. The tracer who calls will not ask for personal information, like a Social Security number. At the end of the call, some states ask if the contact would like to enroll in a text message program, which sends daily health and safety reminders until the 14-day quarantine ends. But tracers won’t ask you for money or information like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does is a scammer.
If you believe you've been contacted by a bogus contact tracer, file a report with the Oregon Department of Justice.
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WATCH: What is contact tracing?