As the state of California experiences a spike in COVID-19 cases across various counties, your chances of being exposed to a carrier have increased. Because it's so contagious, health officials use contact tracing to try to identify people who might have been exposed to COVID-19 before they show symptoms. However, scammers have recently used California’s contact tracing program, California Connected, in attempts to defraud concerned citizens.
Scammers are taking advantage of the current public health emergency by impersonating contact tracers in order to profit financially. Along with phone calls, they send links in text messages and emails about fictitious COVID-19 cases. Scammers might ask for information such as your Social Security number, financial information, and other sensitive information not required for authentic contact tracing.
The Federal Trade Commission wants you to know:
- Real contact tracers won't ask you for money
- Contact tracing doesn't require your bank account or credit card number
- Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Social Security number
- Your immigration status doesn't matter for contact tracing, so real tracers won't ask
- Do not click on a link in a text or email regarding contact tracing
Legitimate contact tracers may call, email, text, or visit your home to collect information. They will only send you texts or emails indicating when they will contact you. They will not ask you to click or download anything.
A legitimate contact tracer might ask you for:
- Your name and address
- Health information
- The names of places and people you have visited
To learn more about California Connected, visit covid19.ca.gov/contact-tracing/. You can find COVID-19 information for Santa Barbara County at publichealthsbc.org/, and for Ventura County at www.vchca.org/health-information/covid19.