Don’t be scammed by a fake COVID-19 con­tact tracer

The Dundalk Eagle - - POLICE BLOTTER -

As more of the pop­u­la­tion ven­tures out, it in­creases our chances of be­ing ex­posed to COVID-19. This could lead to a call from a con­tact tracer who is hired by the Mary­land De­part­ment of Health to track where you have been and who you’ve been in con­tact with in the last two weeks. Their job is to con­tact you if there’s a pos­si­bil­ity that you’ve been ex­posed to the virus to help pre­vent it from spread­ing to oth­ers.

The Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion (FTC) and Mary­land De­part­ment of Health have warned us of scam­mers pre­tend­ing to be con­tact trac­ers. Mar yland is us­ing covidLINK, a con­tact trac­ing ini­tia­tive to help keep us safe. A con­tact tracer will con­tact you by phone, and oc­ca­sion­ally in per­son if needed. A le­git­i­mate con­tact tracer will ask you about your health, if you have any symp­toms of the virus, and, if so, how long you’ve had those symp­toms. You may be asked of places that you re­cently vis­ited, names of in­di­vid­u­als that you’ve been in close con­tact with, and if you have con­tact in­for­ma­tion for those peo­ple. Pro­vide as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble so that the con­tact tracer can get in touch with oth­ers who may have po­ten­tially been in­fected. If you tested pos­i­tive for Coron­avirus, the con­tact tracer may also re­quest the date of your test and the name of your in­sur­ance com­pany for ad­di­tional ver­i­fi­ca­tion.

Scam­mers want to steal your iden­tity and money. You should never be asked for pass­words, pho­to­graphs or videos, or per­sonal de­tails un­re­lated to COVID-19. Here are steps to pre­vent be­ing scammed.

• Never pay a con­tact tracer. Their ser­vice to you is free and you should never be asked for money or pay­ment.

• Never give any­one your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. You will not be asked for your So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber, bank, credit card or fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion.

• Never share your im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus. A con­tact tracer doesn’t even need that in­for­ma­tion.

Mar yland has pro­vided a way for you to ver­ify that you’re be­ing con­tacted by a le­git­i­mate con­tact tracer. If you re­ceive a call from them, the caller ID will read “MD COVID.” If you do not have caller ID, the in­com­ing phone num­ber should be (240) 466-4488.

To re­port a scam or other con­sumer prob­lem re­lated to the Coron­avirus, file a com­plaint with the FTC at FTC.gov/com­plaint. In­for­ma­tion you pro­vide will be shared with lo­cal, state and fed­eral law en­force­ment part­ners.

The in­for­ma­tion you pro­vide to a con­tact tracer is cru­cial in re­duc­ing the spread of the virus and keep­ing oth­ers healthy. Your re­sponse will help in­form and pro­tect oth­ers.

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