In every crisis, there are those who would prey on the vulnerable and scared.
Avoid Scammers Pretending to be Contact Tracers
Here’s how to identify scammers pretending to be health department employees conducting case contact investigators. If you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, the Whatcom County Health Department will confirm some identifying information about you, such as your address and name.
Real health department contact tracers will not ask you:
- For financial information or money.
- For your immigration status or social security number.
- For any personal identifying information beyond name, phone number, address, and date of birth.
They will ask you about where you have been and who you have spent time with.
Tips to Avoid Coronavirus Scams
- Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.
- Many scammers are targeting health care facilities. If there is suspicious activity with a vendor, such as sudden delays or requesting a different payment method, please utilize the FBI disaster fraud hotline at 1-866-720-5721. Visit the FBI to learn more.
- Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. In Whatcom County, we have established WhatcomCovid.com as your accurate source of information.
- Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
- Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.