Scammers purport to be virus ‘contact tracers’

HONOLULU — The state continues to warn of a multitude of scams associated with the COVID-19 virus, the latest involving scammers impersonating contact tracers in an attempt to acquire personal information.

In its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, legitimate contact tracers are calling Hawai‘i residents who may have come into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

While this is a vital tool to combat the pandemic, residents should verify that the call is coming from an authorized individual before providing any information. Red flags that the caller might be an impersonator include asking for Social Security numbers, bank information or a form of payment.

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. But don’t fall for it! These links can contain malware that downloads to your device.”

Another version of this scam involves a robocall claiming to be part of “contact and tracing efforts.” Again, the call 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. This starts with questions about your full name and date of birth, but can quickly move to personally identifiable information and/or financial accounts.

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

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection has a COVID-19 resource website that includes additional information on different types of scams:

  1. Mailman Mike June 29, 2020 9:44 am Reply

    I’m not a fan of contact tracing. The public on a small island like Kauai should get some basic information on the sick person. Like what part of the island they live, where did they shop, did they ride the bus ect.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.