GEORGETOWN, Texas - COVID 19 cons have swept across the country almost as fast as the viral outbreak itself.
Complaint calls continue to come in according to Erin Dufner with the Better Business Bureau.
"During a pandemic absolutely these scammers are going to come and try to scam people, use this opportunity to take advantage, for people, and a lot of them are in very vulnerable situations,” said Dufner.
The Federal Trade Commission has made it a top topic; especially fake contact tracing calls.
"But we are seeing an uptick,” said Georgetown Police Capt. Roland Waits, who believes distractions caused by isolation and social unrest provide an opening for crooks. "They are preying on the fact that people are just not paying attention or they are going to get a word or two that’s a trigger, and they are like wow, maybe this could be legit."
Here are some important points to remember about contact tracing from the BBB.
- Contact tracers will ask about your current health, medical history, and recent travels.
- Contact tracers will not ask for any government ID numbers or bank account details.
- Contact tracers will identify themselves and say what Health Department or official team they are with.
- Contact tracing is normally done by a phone call, not social media messages or texts.
- Contact tracers will never reveal the identity of the person who tested positive. If they provide a person’s name, you know it’s a scam
"It is completely voluntary and it is completely confidential,” said Chris Van Deusen with the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Calls, according to Van Deusen, are never a hard sell.
"You are not going to get a call from someone who is badgering you for information, or being very, very, aggressive trying to get your information, that certainly would be a red flag for me,” said Van Deusen.
The scam alerts also include e-mails and social media links that may download malware. "Any place that you're using your credit card, information can be taken by a scammer by just one click," said Dufner.
Those who believe they got tricked by the scam can still take some protective/preventative measures.
"If you don’t have anti-virus software, go get some, go get some immediately, because sometimes you don’t know you have malware and number 2, malware may be installed but may not come up on your computer for a month or two,” said Dufner.
So when in doubt, hang up or delete.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.