Be Vigilant—Scammers are Working Overtime
COVID-19 related scams have evolved for the worse. Fraudsters are constantly heightening the ways in which they prey on people’s fears. And older people, who are home alone without the support of loved ones, may be the most vulnerable. The new frontier for scammers is contact tracing. As most of us have learned in the last four months, the purpose of contact tracing is to identify and monitor people who have been in contact with individuals who have tested positive for Coronavirus. After they have been alerted to their exposure to COVID-19, they are instructed to quarantine. This system is overseen by a state’s health department. The infected individual routinely provides names and contact information for the people he or she has been in contact with—when known. Those names and phone numbers are kept in an online data base, and the folks contacted will often get a text message from the state, informing them they’ll receive a call from an ‘official tracer.’ The legitimate government tracer who calls will not ask for personal information and/or credit card or bank account numbers.
Scammers, naturally, have learned about this process and are now taking advantage of it in their phishing schemes. They call or send phony text messages to unwitting consumers, falsely alerting them that they have been in contact with infected individuals. According to the FTC, their spam text messages ask the recipient to click a link. See a sample text message below:
Clicking that link could install malware that steals the recipient’s personal information, or asks them to answer questions involved in a larger fraud scheme. Please alert your loved ones to this nefarious scam, which plays on the fears and anxieties of many of those who plan to shelter in place for some time.