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Hawaii state officials warn of contact tracing scams

While contact tracing plays an important role in helping to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, state officials warn of a “multitude of scams” involving impersonators attempting to acquire personal information.

According to a Better Business Bureau “Scam Alert,” this is how it works:

>> You receive an unsolicited message via text, email, or a social media messenger.

>> The message explains that you’ve come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

>> The message instructs you to self-isolate and provides a link for more information.

>> Alarmed, you are tempted to click and get more details.

>> Don’t fall for it! These links can contain malware that downloads to your device.

In another scam, a robocall claiming to be part of “contact and tracing efforts” informs you that you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

After electing to speak to a representative, the “contact tracer” asks you to verify personal information, including your full name and date of birth, as well as personally identifiable information and details on financial accounts.

Officials said legitimate contact tracers are calling Hawaii residents who may have come into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. However, residents should verify that the call is coming from an authorized individual before providing any information.

A contact tracer who wants to confirm your identity through a birthdate or address should be able to provide the information to you, but you should not provide that information to them.

Some red flags to look out for include requests for your social security number, bank information, or any form of payment. Also, officials warn the public not to click on any strange links, or links from an unverified source.

An authorized contact tracer will not disclose the identity of the person who tested positive, officials said, but may ask for names and contact information for everyone you came in close contact with while possibly infectious so that they can be contacted as well.

Additional information on the different types of scams is available at the state Office of Consumer Protection at cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/covid19.

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