Lake County officials are warning residents of contact tracing scams where criminals pretend to be contact tracers to steal vital information like social security numbers and banking information over the phone, via email, and text message.
At least one Lake County resident has claimed to have given vital information such as their Social Security number during what they thought was a contact tracing call.
“Preying on people during a pandemic is pathetic,” said Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim. “Anyone in Lake County arrested and charged with scamming the citizens during this pandemic will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“We are very concerned to hear that scammers may be targeting our residents,” said Dr. Sana Ahmed, Medical Epidemiologist at the Lake County Health Department. “Thorough contact tracing is crucial to our response to this pandemic. It is a very effective tool that our staff use to identify and notify people who may have been exposed, and we take very seriously the trust our residents have in public health.”
Knowing what to expect if you are contacted by a Lake County Health Department contact tracer can help you avoid contact tracing scams. Here is an overview of the process:
The Health Department reaches out to people who test positive for COVID-19 and those who have been in close contact with a confirmed case. Contact tracers first try to reach you via the phone, then via text message. The Health Department will only leave messages asking you to call back at 847-377-8130.
Contact tracers interview people who test positive for COVID-19 over the phone, help them recall where they have been and who they have seen while infectious, and give guidance and support so you can take steps to protect others. Time is crucial in the process, because a person may spread COVID-19 to others before they know they are infected. The interview is voluntary, and you may choose what information you share.
A contact tracer will never:
- Ask for your Social Security number;
- Ask for money, bank account or credit card numbers, or any other form of payment;
- Ask for your immigration status; or
- Threaten consequences of not participating or answering questions.
Contact tracers notify the COVID-19 case’s close contacts about their possible exposure. They do not disclose the name or any other personal details of the COVID-19 case to the contacts.
After speaking with a contact tracer, people who need to self-quarantine will be asked to log their symptoms each day using new contact tracing software implemented by the State of Illinois. These daily messages will be sent via email or text messages.
If you receive a suspicious call, text message, or email about contact tracing or exposure to COVID-19, you may call the Health Department’s Communicable Disease program at 847-377-8130. Staff can help verify if you have been contacted by the Health Department.
If you believe you have been a victim of a contact tracing scam, please call the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office at 847-377-3000, or your local police department.
For more information about contact tracing, please visit the Health Department’s Contact Tracing webpage, https://www.lakecountyil.gov/4469/Contact-Tracing. For additional information about COVID-19 scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission website, https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams-consumer-advice.