I Got a Call from a Contact Tracer! Is It Real or Fake?

BBB Consumer Alerts

Let’s face it, contact tracing is essential to help stop the spread of COVID-19. No one wants to receive a call or email from a contact tracer, but if you do, how can you tell the difference between the real thing or a scammer?

When a person tests positive for COVID-19, a contact tracer notes all the people that the infected person encountered typically during the past 14 days – family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Each state has slightly different protocols for contact tracing, but there are some basic practices that are the same overall.

A Real Contact Tracer:

  • May call, email, text, or visit you in-person if you’ve been exposed to an infected person.
  • If by text or email – will inform you that you have been exposed to an infected person and that you will receive a phone call from your local health department from a specific number.
  • Will ask for your name and address, health information, plus the names of places and people you have visited.

A Fake Tracer:

  • Will urge you to click on a text or email link.
  • Will ask you for personally identifiable information or like your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card numbers.
  • Will ask you to pay for their service.
  • May try to scare you into providing information or paying by claiming that you’ve violated quarantine rules and are subject to fine.

Even though our first response may be fear at the thought of exposure to COVID-19, don’t let scammers scare you into letting your guard down. Take a moment to think about how they contacted you and what they are asking you to do. Does it make sense? Are they asking you to pay or give out a lot of personal information, not relevant to their stated purpose? If you answer “yes” to either of these questions, simply walk away!

Sources: BBBNA, BBB.org, the Verge, FTC – United States Federal Trade Commission, www.ftc.gov – not subject to copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. 403.

To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to https://www.bbb.org

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