TWIN FALLS — The attorney general's office is warning Idahoans of a scam that may make its way into Idaho, after being noticed in multiple across the country. The scam takes advantage of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis by impersonating someone who works with contact tracing.
Public health officials and districts use contact tracing to track the spread of COVID-19. When someone tests positive, public health departments contact them to find out where they have been and who they have seen to try and get an idea of other possible exposure. Based on the information given, they can assess how many other people might be at risk and how serious of an impact it can have on the surrounding community.
Scammers have been taking advantage of this initiative by disguising themselves as someone from public health departments in an attempt to receive personal information, specifically finances.
Brett DeLange, the Consumer Protections Chief od the Attorney General's office, states, "So they'll say, "I'm here on behalf of the department of the regional health district, and I need to make sure I'm talking to the right person. Can you tell me your social security number to confirm I'm talking to the correct person." Don't give it to them, hang up the phone."
However, the public health district does ask personal questions, which might make it difficult to differentiate between them. They might ask, do you know so and so? Where have you been recently? Do you live at this address right now?
The red flag is once questions start getting asked about your personal banking information. "The legitimate callers are never going to ask you about your social security number or your bank account number, your credit card information. That's just not relevant to what they're going to be doing," said DeLange.
If a call is received that seem questionable, it is ok to hang up. The attorney general's office encourages people who seem skeptical to give them a call so they can verify if the district is trying to reach you.