Los Angeles County officials are warning residents about an ongoing scam that involves con artists posing as health officials who offer contact tracing.
Both the L.A. County Department of Public Health and the Department of Consumer & Business Affairs have warned residents that they might receive a phone call, text message or email from someone identifying themselves as a “contact tracer.”
“Scammers are impersonating legitimate COVID-19 contact tracers,” said a Consumer & Business Affairs press release distributed earlier this week. “Their purpose is to profit from the current public health emergency and they try to trick you into giving private personal or financial information.”
The scammers are said to be telling people that they’re “working to help fight COVID-19” and need information from the person they’re calling, such as their Social Security number, money, financial information or immigration status.
DPH officials have said anyone calling as a contact tracer who asks for this information is not truly working for the county.
County contact tracers will only ask for a person’s name and date of birth, but “will never ask for your financial information,” Public Health officials said in a statement.
The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office also jumped into the ring, telling residents that to be 100% sure they should reach out to the appropriate departments directly.
“Contact your local health departments to verify that the calls or messages are valid,” said the D.A.’s press release. “Be wary of any links or attachments in emails or text messages.”
The calls, according to DPH officials, are being facilitated through illegal robocalls. “If they continue, make a note of their information so that you can report them to the Federal Trade Commission.”
To report a possible COVID-19 scam and get help trying to get your money back, contact the L.A. County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at dcba.lacounty.gov or 800- 593-8222.
To report suspicious claims being made about testing or treatment products, report to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
The number of robocalls, according to the FTC, has decreased significantly this year, with the number of complaints filed in April 2020 down 68% when compared to April 2019 and down 60% in May 2020 compared to May 2019.
This is due, according to the FTC, to people reporting the information of suspected robo calls and allowing the federal agency to send warning letters to companies providing Voice over Internet Protocols, or VoIP, to routed or transmitted illegal Coronavirus scam robocalls.