Scammers Leverage Contact Tracing Measures, FTC Warns

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a warning Tuesday regarding the way scammers could take advantage of contact tracing to steal personal information.

A key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19, contact tracing allows local and state health departments to identify people who have been in contact with infected people, while also monitoring and promoting proper care routines.

An official contact tracer will also work closely with a confirmed patient to get the names and phone numbers of any individuals who may have come in close contact with him.

In some cases, individuals who did come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 might first receive a text message from the health department notifying them that they will be contacted by a specific phone number for further instructions.

As scammers usually do their homework and are aware of the latest developments in the pandemic, fraudsters are now posing as contact tracers sending out phony text messages asking recipients to click on embedded links. The FTC warns that, by clicking on the link, you simply assure that the scammers gets access to your personal and financial information. The best course of action is to ignore and delete any of these messages.

It’s also important to remember that the official who phones in will not ask for personal information, such as your Social Security number, credit card numbers, bank account and payments. Anyone who does is a scammer.

The FTC also recommends filtering unwanted text messages from unknown senders or spam, or checking with your wireless provider for tools or services that may allow you to do it.

You can also take additional precautionary measures, including:

• Enabling multi-factor or two-factor authentication for your online accounts
• Keeping your operating systems and devices up-to-date
• Backing up your data in case of any malware or ransomware attacks

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