COVID-19 contact tracing scams on the rise

Local News

MCALLEN – Local health officials recently launched a feature on your phone to let you know if you have been exposed to COVID-19. Experts say scammers are now using that to try and hack into your phone.

As cases surge globally, contact tracers are tracking if you have exposed to the virus via your Bluetooth then call to notify you.

“They should identify themselves as to who they are, who they represent, anybody who doesn’t do that that’s a red flag they’re not a legitimate tracer,” said Better Business Bureau President Dolores Salinas.

The scam comes via a text message stating you have come in contact with a sick person along with a link.

“You may be downloading malware onto your device the other thing is phishing for information and on that link they’ll start asking for social security numbers, credit cards, etc.” she added.

Experts advise being extra cautious as scammers are also making calls.

“If someone tells you, you’ve been in contact with Joe Blow that tells you that’s a scam artist because that’s not information a tracer will give you. That’s private information covered by HIPPA clause,” said Salinas.

Experts say legitimate tracers will only contact you via a phone call without asking for personal information they should already have.

“A legitimate tracer will only ask you questions about where you’ve been, who you’ve been in contact with, if you have any symptoms those are the only questions they’re going to ask you,” said Salinas.

Exposure tracking can not be turned on without an authorized app. According to phone companies, the app can only come from state, local, or federal health authorities after an interview process with exposed people.

Experts urge hanging up the phone immediately and ignoring text messages that seem fishy.

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