How to tell the difference between real COVID-19 contact tracers and scammers

Oct 12, 2021, 7:23 PM | Updated: Oct 13, 2021, 10:35 am

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — If a stranger called you up and began asking for personal information, you might find it alarming.

A woman in South Jordan got such a call.

The caller claimed to be doing COVID contact tracing. So, is it real or is it a scammer? And how are you supposed to know the difference?

When Mandy Brown got the call saying her son had tested positive for COVID-19, she was suspicious.

“I was pretty sure he hadn’t been tested,” she said.

Still, her son is a student athlete, so it was possible he took a test at school and did not tell her. So, Brown pressed the caller for more details, and she said the caller pressed her right back.

“They were kind of asking me for some personal information,” she said, “and I felt like it was a scam.”

Brown hung up, then, not wanting to see anyone duped by an identity thief, she decided it was time to the KSL Investigators.

COVID-19 related scams are certainly plentiful. The KSL Investigators have reported on several, and just about every consumer watchdog you can think of has sounded the alarm that identify thieves are using COVID to try and dupe people.

But, “Was it an identity thief?” KSL’s Matt Gephardt asked Trevor Warner of the Davis County Health Department.

“No, it was a legit call from the county health department,” responded Warner, who confirmed the call really did come from his agency.

Turns out, Brown’s son has the exact same name and birthday as another kid who really did test positive. The state system mistakenly conjoined the two.

Warner said the department’s contact tracers do ask for personal information, but for good reason.

“To identity and confirm that the person is who they say they are,” he said.

But there is information that the county would never request – including your bank account info, credit card numbers or your Social Security number.

“No contact tracer will ever ask you for that or your Social Security number,” said Warner. “Absolutely not. Absolutely not.”

As for Brown, she said she is glad to know that she was not called by an identify thief and that her son is COVID-free.

The Davis County Health Department said this is the first time they have ever dealt with a situation where the information of two separate people with the same name and birthdate had been merged into one.

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How to tell the difference between real COVID-19 contact tracers and scammers