MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp is warning residents that criminals have been using the COVID-19 emergency to carry out a new type of scam – posing as contact tracers to steal money or personal information.
Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for an infectious disease. Public health department officials will try to learn where a person has been in order to warn others who may have come into contact with that person, so that they can get tested or isolate themselves, Knapp said.
A recent criminal trend has identified criminal scammers pretending to be contact tracers during the COVID-19 public emergency. The scammer sends a message to the victim saying they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19/coronavirus and need to click a link to learn more. When that link is clicked, malicious software is downloaded onto a person’s smartphone or other device, giving hackers access to their target’s private information, Knapp said.
Legitimate contact tracers only send text messages to let a person know that they will be calling. These messages do not include a link. Messages that include a link to click should be viewed as illegitimate and deleted immediately, Knapp said.
Contract tracers also do not ask for personal information, such as your social security number or bank account number, Knapp said.
“Criminals are taking advantage of these unprecedented circumstances and the public trust to steal from our residents. Please do not become a victim of these scammers!,” Knapp said.