Attorney general warns Montanans of contact tracing scams
Last updated 7/27/2020 at 11:24am
In order to avoid contact tracing scams, Attorney General Tim Fox asks Montanans to be cautious when answering contact tracing phone calls, texts or emails.
Contact tracing is the process that helps health officials identify people who may have come into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. The infected person must share some personal information to help health officials determine how many people the infected individual came into contact with recently.
“Contact tracing is an important part of managing the spread of COVID-19,” Fox said. “Unfortunately, there are scammers trying to profit from the confusion and fear surrounding the coronavirus. Don’t give out any financial information, and never pay someone who claims to be a contact tracer. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for payment.”
Contact tracing personnel may reach out to people to discuss the results of a test they know you took or because someone they were in contact with tested positive.
Legitimate contact tracers will be working under the authority of the local county health department and will generally call or text. They may ask people for their name, address, health information, and the names and phone numbers of people and places they have visited. Scammers will ask for more information.
The Attorney General’s Office offered are some tips to avoid contact tracing scams:
• Don’t pay a contact tracer. Anyone requesting payment for contact tracing is a scammer. If someone claiming to be a contact tracer offers to sell someone a test, it’s a scam.
• People should not give out their Social Security number or any other financial information. A legitimate contact tracer will not need a Social Security number, bank account information or credit card number. Some scammers will offer fake contact tracing jobs to try to get financial information.
• Don’t share immigration status. Legitimate contact tracers don’t need this information and will not ask for it.
• Be cautious about clicking on links or downloading information. Contact tracers generally conduct this work through calls and text messages, not email. Before clicking on a link or downloading information sent through an email, first verify the information with the contact tracer.
Fox encouraged Montanans to turn to reputable sources for COVID-19 information, like the Montana Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 pages available online at https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/cdepi/diseases/coronavirusmt .
To report contact tracing scams or any other COVID-19 related fraud, people can contact The Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection online at https://app.doj.mt.gov/apps/oscar/default.aspx, or call 1-800-481-6896 toll-free.