Online Scams

7 things a COVID-19 contact tracer will never ask you for

Jan. 6, 2021

You probably know contact tracing helps slow the spread of COVID-19. But how do you know if the contact tracer who calls, emails, or texts you is legitimate? It could be a scammer.

Sometimes you can tell by the questions they ask. For instance, a legitimate contact tracer will never ask you for your Social Security number. That question signals a scam.

How does contact tracing work?

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, the public health department is notified. A health department worker — a contact tracer — calls that person.

Contact tracers give their names and tell where they work. They ask the infected person to identify him- or herself. If the infected person is unaware of a positive test result, the contact tracer tells them.

Contract tracers ask about recent close contacts and request contact information for those people. If you’re on that list, a contact tracer will call, text, or email you and let you know you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

What’s a contract-tracing call like?

Contact tracers will tell you their names, say where they work, and explain why they’re calling. They may identify the infected person you’ve been in contact with, but only if that person gave the health department permission.

Contact tracers let you know you may have been exposed and should get tested. They also provide information about quarantine and isolation and other resources.

All of this has to do with health — and none of it requires you to provide sensitive financial or personal information. The goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19. That helps protect you, your family, and your community. 

7 things a contact tracer will never ask you

A contact tracer will never ask you for sensitive financial or personal information. If someone calls, texts, or emails you for this information, you can be sure the “contact tracer” is a scammer. 

Here’s the type of information a legitimate contract tracer will never ask you for.

  1. Social Security number.
  2. Money.
  3. Financial account information.
  4. Credit card number.
  5. Salary information.
  6. Immigration status.
  7. Health insurance information.

Scammers could this information to commit identity theft and other frauds. Keep in mind, too, to never click on a link in a text or email you receive seeking information. Clicking on a link could infect your device with malicious software, which could harm your device or access your personal information.

What if you get a call from someone who claims to be a contact tracer, but you still have doubts? You can ask that person for their contact information. Do a little research to see if the phone number, for instance, is connected with your health department.

If it is, call back.

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Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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