The Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina and the North Carolina Attorney General's Office both issued warning on what you need to watch out for.
Contact tracers play a vital role in stopping the spread of the virus, as contact tracing helps health officials contain COVID-19 by identifying people who may have been exposed to someone with the virus and asking them to stay home. Scammers know that and are now posing as tracers hoping to catch you off guard.
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It can start with a text message claiming you came in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The text will even include a link to click with more information, but that link may contain malware.
Besides text messages, also watch out for similar messages on social media and robocalls where the caller wants you to reveal very personal information. Alyssa Parker, a representative for the BBB said, "They may ask for your address and date of birth, they're not going to ask for government ID."
The minute they ask for money or any banking information, that's a sure sign it's a scam.
According to Attorney General Josh Stein the statewide manual contact tracing program is known as the COVID-19 Community Team. Here is how his office says the legitimate contact tracing will work:
- Look for an initial text or email. If you are contacted, you will get an initial text from the number 45394 or email from address NC-ARIAS-NoReply@dhhs.nc.gov - these messages will be from the Community Team. You should respond to this text or email. It is safe to click on links in this text or email.
- Double check the sender If you receive a text or email from a source other than 45394 or NC-ARIAS-NoReply@dhhs.nc.gov, take care to avoid clicking on links. Often, scammers ask you to click on links that look legitimate, but actually infect your computer with malware.
- Answer the call. After the initial text/email, you will receive a phone call. It is important to answer the call when the Community Team reaches out. The call should be from the number of your local health department or NC OUTREACH. If you cannot be reached by email, text, or phone, the Community Team will follow up with in-person visits using personal protective equipment to ensure safety. The COVID-19 Community Team will make multiple attempts to reach out.
- Don't give out financial information. The Community Team member who calls will never ask for bank or credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, or any other financial information. If they do ask, they are not an actual COVID-19 Community Team member."
According to Stein's office, any information shared during the call is considered private health information and is strictly confidential. If you test positive for COVID-19, a member of the Community Team will make sure you have the resources and support you need while isolating at home, and will also ask about anyone you have been near recently so they can also contact those individuals.
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For more information about the Community Team, click here.
If you believe that you have been the victim of a scam, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division online or at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.