MERIDEN — As a way to inform the community about COVID-19 contact tracing scams, the city’s Health and Human Services and Police departments have posted tips on the City of Meriden website.
Contact tracing is the identification of people who could have been exposed to someone who contracted the virus.
“We first call the person with the diagnosis, check in to see how they are feeling and ask them about recent activities and those they have been in close contact with either 48 hours before they started getting sick or 48 hours before they got their test if they have no symptoms,” said Lea Crown, director of health and human services. “From there, we reach out to those individuals identified, and, without providing the name of the person that tested positive, give quarantine guidance.”
Crown said that she heard about the scams from a city resident.
“A resident emailed me concerned that someone asked for their social security number during a supposed contact tracing call,” Crown said.
There have been similar reports nationwide.
“It kind of has been something that’s been trending across the country,” said Police Lt. John Mennone. “We’ve had very few cases that have come up in Meriden. We just wanted to get ahead of it.”
Contact tracers never ask for financial or social security information.
If a resident shares personal information accidentally, it is important to take immediate action.
“They may want to consider getting in touch with all of their credit card companies or banks,” Mennone said.
Mennone stressed that it is important for residents to be “very vigilant in not giving out any information” unless they know they are talking with a real company or the Centers for Disease Control.
“When people get your information, it is a very difficult process to investigate because of the unique and very intricate computer abilities of these hackers and because they bounce off of so many different IP addresses,” Mennone said.
If someone asks you for any personal information, hang up and contact the police department’s non-emergency number.
To learn more about how scammers target individuals, go to the Federal Communication Commission website or the CDC website.