The Coronavirus pandemic has been a gold mine for scammers who are capitalizing on the public’s concern through a wide variety of scams. The scams have proliferated so much that here at Scamicide we even have a separate section that describes these scams and how to protect yourself from them. The latest scam which the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a warning about involves contact tracing. Many of the various state departments of health are contacting people who have come into contact with people who have become infected with the Coronavirus to warn them about their potential danger and advise them what to do. The names and phone numbers of people who have come into people infected with the Coronavirus are gathered by public health employees who ask people infected with the Coronavirus for the names and phone numbers of people with whom they came into contact while in an infectious state. The first notice to people who have come into contact with an infected person is generally done through a text message from the state health department in which the person receiving the message is informed that he or she will be receiving a phone call from the state department of health. In the ensuing phone call, the person receiving the call is be asked if they wished to enroll in a text message program that will send them daily health and safety reminders during the recommended 14 day quarantine period. The legitimate call will not ask for any personal information, such as your Social Security number, credit card number or bank account information.
Scammers however, are taking advantage of the public’s interest in the contact tracing program by calling people posing as state health department workers purporting to inform the person receiving the call that he or she had been exposed to someone infected with the Coronavirus. Unlike the legitimate contact tracers, however, the scammers ask for personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account number or credit card number which information they use to make you a victim of identity theft. They also are sending text messages such as the one shown below in which they provide a link for you to click on to learn more information. if you click on the link, you will download various forms of malware on to your phone which will steal information from your phone and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.
The important thing to remember if you get a call purporting to be from your state department of health informing you that you have come into contact with someone infected with the Coronavirus, is that no legitimate caller involved with the contact tracing program will ever ask you for any personal information of any kind. Anyone asking for this type of information is a scammer. Even if your Caller ID indicates that the call is coming from your state department of health, scammers can “spoof” telephone numbers and manipulate your Caller ID to make it appear as if their call is legitimate when it is not.
None of the legitimate contact tracing text messages do anything other than inform you that you will be receiving a call from your department of health to discuss your coming into contact with someone infected with the Coronavirus. The legitimate text messages will not contain any links. If you click on the link in the scam text message, you will download malware that will steal information from your phone and use it to make you a victim of identity theft. As always, you should never click on a link unless you have absolutely confirmed that it is legitimate. In this case, it will never be legitimate.
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”
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