Story at a glance
- The U.S Department of Justice issued a warning regarding fraudulent contact tracing.
- Officials say legitimate contact tracing will not ask for money or payment.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a press release on June 30 warning the public of fraudulent coronavirus contact tracing schemes aimed to steal personal financial data.
The scams are reportedly appearing as text messages or telephone calls asking for money, Social Security numbers, bank account information and credit card numbers. Officials state that none of this information is pertinent to legitimate contact tracing.
“COVID-19 fraud is rapidly evolving. Operating contact tracing schemes is just one method that criminals use to target unsuspecting patients nationwide, attempting to steal their personal information and commit healthcare fraud,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Gary Cantrell in the prepared statement. “We continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and bring to justice those who exploit the ongoing public health crisis in order to enrich themselves.”
Contact tracing is a component of transmission control public health officials recommend to curb further spread of the coronavirus. By tracing people an infected person has associated with, positive cases can be identified and isolated before the continued spread. Along with sufficient testing, detection and isolation, contact tracing is a key component in flattening the epidemiological curve to help states reopen safely.
While it is still a fledgling program in the U.S. that needs improvement, law enforcement officials note that legitimate contact tracing could take the form of a call, e-mail or text message, but should not include any requests for money.
“The Justice Department, HHS and FTC encourage anyone who has spotted a contact tracing scam or any fraud connected to COVID-19 to report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 866-720-5721 or online at www.Justice.gov/DisasterComplaintForm or ftc.gov/complaint,” the announcement concludes.
BREAKING NEWS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC