Live 5 Scambusters: Imposter scams target contact tracing efforts

Updated: May. 21, 2020 at 2:43 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As health officials ramp up contact tracing to identify cases of COVID-19 scam artists are trying to take advantage.

"They're taking advantage of the fact that people are watching the news more than ever and probably hearing about this for the first time," Bailey Parker with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs said.

Contact tracers are hired by state health departments to identify people who've come in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Text messages started showing up a few weeks ago claiming someone you know has tested positive and you may also be infected. The message even comes with a link.

"They're just looking for you to click that link and it's either going to download malware or some type of virus on your computer," Parker said. "It could look like a legitimate website when you go to it and it asks you to enter in private information."

You also need to be aware of potential scam calls that appear to be coming from the Department of Health and Environmental Control. Scammers can easliy spoof the number and claim to be a contact tracer.

"Be very wary, especially if they try to get you to verify private information," Parker said. "That's one of the biggest red flags of scams."

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a contact tracer may ask if you would like to enroll in a text message program to get health and safety updates until your 14-day quarantine ends. At no point should you be asked to give out private information.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at

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