COVID-19-MONEY-SECURITY

Don’t be fooled by COVID-19 contact tracing scammers

May 19, 2020, 12:18 PM | Updated: 6:13 pm
COVID-19 contact tracing scammers...
Texts claiming to be from the Health Department are the latest trick scammers are using (Image credit: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — Scammers want your money. And federal regulators warn, those scammers are now posing as the Health Department to get it — by tricking you with a message about COVID-19 contact tracing.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states they are now receiving complaints from people of text messages saying they were in close contact with someone diagnosed with the coronavirus.  The message then tells people to click on a link for more information.

Many times, the FTC says, this link comes from COVID-19 scammers and installs malware on phones. Or it takes people to another page asking for personal information.

Daniel O’Bannon is the director of Utah’s Division of Consumer Protection.

“Scammers always ask, ‘What can I do to get someone’s attention, what can I do to get them to click a link or give up personal information?'” O’Bannon said.

And the best way, said O’Bannon “is to impersonate a legitimate organization and feed into your fears.”

The scammers are capitalizing on a legitimate COVID-19 practice: contact tracing. That’s when the Health Department attempts to track down people who were exposed to someone with the coronavirus.  

Health officials will call to give notification, but will only advise people how to treat symptoms, or in the case of COVID-19, stay quarantined. 

“They will never ask for bank account or Social Security numbers,” said O’Bannon.

If you receive a text message or a phone call from someone claiming you were exposed to others with coronavirus, O’Bannon said you should never hit “return call” or click any provided links. Instead, he advises looking up the number of your local health department and calling them yourself. 

The FTC said it received 49,046 reports related to COVID-19, and people lost $35.57 million to scammers.


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

Today’s Top Stories

COVID-19-Money-security

canada truck blockade COVID...
ROB GILLIES and TOM KRISHER Associated Press

Four-day truck blockade at US-Canada border shuts auto plants

The bumper-to-bumper demonstration entered its fourth day Thursday at the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit.
5 months ago
Utah's unemployment rate continues to sit lower than national than the national average.
Photo: Nam...
By Paul Wiseman

US unemployment claims at 52-year low

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits plunged last week to the lowest level in 52 years.
7 months ago
Money, COVID-19 financial assistance program reportedly a big success. Photo: Pexels...
Paul Nelson

Salt Lake City calls COVID-19 financial assistance program a big success, some housing funds still available

Officials in Salt Lake City say their financial assistance program to help families with during the pandemic was a success. 
7 months ago
FEMA Photo: canva...
Eliza Craig

FEMA adds $8.4 million to Utah’s COVID response fund

FEMA said the funding will go toward personal protective equipment including medical gowns, N95 masks, and gloves.
8 months ago
September Jobs...
Anneken Tappe, CNN Business

Major disappointment: US economy adds only 194,000 jobs in September

US employers added only 194,000 jobs in September, another troubling sign that Covid is disrupting the economy.
9 months ago
Holla Dollars...
Mary Richards

“Holla Dollars” are released in Holladay to support local business

Holla Dollars can be downloaded in ten dollar increments and were made available by money sent to the state for pandemic relief.
9 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Don’t be fooled by COVID-19 contact tracing scammers