NOTTINGHAM, MD—As more of the population ventures out, it increases their chances of being exposed to COVID-19. This could lead to a call from a Maryland Department of Health contact tracer who tracks residents’ whereabouts as well as with whom they have been in contact in recent weeks.
The Federal Trade Commission, Maryland Department of Health, and Baltimore County Police Department are warning residents of scammers who are pretending to be contact tracers. Maryland is using covidLINK, a contact tracing initiative to help keep citizens safe.
A contact tracer will contact individuals by phone and occasionally in person, if needed. A legitimate contact tracer will ask about whether someone has any symptoms of the virus, and, if so, how long they’ve had those symptoms. Residents may be asked about places that they have recently visited, names of individuals with whom they’ve been in close contact, and any applicable contact information for those people.
Residents should provide as much information as possible so that the contact tracer can get in touch with others who may have potentially been infected. If someone has tested positive for COVID-19, the contract tracer may also request the date of the test and the name of the patient’s insurance company for additional verification.
Scammers are attempting to steal individuals’ identities and money. Citizens should never be asked for passwords, photographs or videos, or personal details unrelated to COVID-19.
The following are steps to prevent being scammed:
- Never pay a contact tracer. Their service is free and no money or payment is required.
- Never give anyone personal information. Citizens will not be asked for a Social Security number, bank, credit card, or financial information.
- Never share immigration status. A contact tracer does not need that information.
Maryland has provided a way for citizens to verify that contact tracers are legitimate. When an official contact tracer calls, the caller ID will read “MD COVID.” For those without caller ID, the incoming phone number should be 240-466-4488.
To report a scam or other consumer problem related to coronavirus, file a complaint with the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information provided will then be shared with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners.