HELENA — In order to avoid contact tracing scams, Attorney General Tim Fox asks Montanans to be cautious when answering contact tracing phone calls, texts, or emails.  Contact tracing is the process that helps health officials identify people who may have come into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.  The infected individual must share some personal information to help health officials determine how many people the infected individual came into contact with recently.

“Contact tracing is an important part of managing the spread of COVID-19,” Attorney General Tim Fox said.  “Unfortunately, there are scammers trying to profit from the confusion and fear surrounding the coronavirus.  Don’t give out any financial information, and never pay someone who claims to be a contact tracer.  Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for payment,” Fox added.

Contact tracing personnel may reach out to you to discuss the results of a test you know you took or because someone you were in contact with tested positive.  Legitimate contact tracers will be working under the authority of the local county health department and will generally call or text.  They may ask you for your name, address, health information, and the names and phone numbers of people and places you have visited.  Scammers will ask for more information.

Here are some tips to avoid contact tracing scams:

  • Don’t pay a contact tracer.  Anyone requesting payment for contact tracing is a scammer.  If someone claiming to be a contact tracer offers to sell you a test, it’s a scam.
  • Don’t give your Social Security number or any other financial information. A legitimate contact tracer will not need your Social Security number, bank account information, or credit card number. Some scammers will offer fake contact tracing jobs to try to get financial information.
  • Don’t share your immigration status.  Legitimate contact tracers don’t need this information and will not ask for it.
  • Be cautious about clicking on links or downloading information.  Contact tracers generally conduct this work through calls and text messages, not email. Before clicking on a link or downloading information sent through an email, first verify the information with the contact tracer.

Fox encourages Montanans to turn to reputable sources for COVID-19 information, like the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.  To report contact tracing scams or any other COVID-19 related fraud, contact Fox’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) online or call 1-800-481-6896 toll-free. 

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