Baltimore: Don’t be Scammed by a Fake COVID-19 Contact Tracer

Baltimore, MD (STL.News) 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. Maryland 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.
  • Maryland 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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