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City Warns of Coronavirus Tracing Scams

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica

Santa Monica Apartments

Santa Monica College
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By Lookout Staff

August 4, 2020 -- As Los Angeles County health officials ramp up their efforts to track those infected with COVID-19, Santa Monica City officials warn that scammers are trying to cash in.

According to City officials, the scammers call to inform their victims that they may have contracted the coronavirus and ask them for Social Security numbers, financial information, payment or immigration status.

"Legitimate contact tracers will reach out to individuals who test positive for COVID-19, and their recent contacts," officials said on Monday.

"They will ask for your name and date of birth, and information about anyone with whom you have been in close contact."

The warning comes after an elderly Santa Monica resident was targeted last week by a caller who informed her she had been identified as having come into contact with someone who had tested positive for the virus.

"She was suspicious of the call immediately, because as an older person with an underlying health condition, she was taking precautions against the novel coronavirus and had not had close contact with anyone for months," City officials said.

When the caller asked for her social security number, the elderly resident hung up.

City officials also warn the scam may involve suspicious links and attachments in emails or texts.

"Remember that scammers can spoof phone numbers and email addresses to make it look like they are legitimate," officials said.

City officials also advise residents not to click on links in ads or social media posts about contact tracing.

Those who hear from someone who identifies themselves as a contact tracer and are not sure it’s legitimate should contact the Los Angeles County Public Health Department at (833) 540-0473 to check the caller’s credentials.

According to County health officials, only 65 percent of those who test positive are willing to be interviewed by contact tracers.

"Contact tracing is a key factor in fighting the novel coronavirus, so it’s important to talk with public health workers and answer their questions," City officials said.

"The information you provide is confidential and will only be used for health purposes. With vigilance you can avoid being scammed."

To find out more about many types of COVID-19-related fraud click here

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