New Jersey officials issue warning about contact-tracing schemes

Virus Outbreak New Jersey Testing
Posted at 2:35 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 14:35:02-04

NEW JERSEY — New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Perischilli and state officials issued a warning to residents about contact-tracing schemes taking place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During Gov. Phil Murphy’s daily coronavirus briefing, Persichilli said the Officer of Homeland Security and Preparedness alerted the department about thousands of reported incidents that involved people receiving text messages from alleged contact tracers claiming someone they knew was infected with COVID-19.

In some newer cases, the suspects ask people to click on a link in the text message to speak with a contact tracer.

“I just want to remind all of you that a contact tracer will not ask for your social security number, your bank or credit card number or your insurance information over a text or over the phone,” Persichilli said.

Murphy added there is “a special place in hell reserved for people” conducting these schemes.

Dr. Christina Tan described what a legitimate contact tracer would ask for, which does not include social security and personal account identifiers.

Typically, contact tracers would contact individuals electronically or over the phone and identify that they are part of the health department.

They would then let the individual called know they may have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and provide further information about the illness and what precautions need to be taken as well as steps to educate the person involved as well as answer follow-up questions.

During the exchange, the contact tracer assures the individual that privacy will be given.

New Jersey is ramping up the number of testing offered. Walmart, CVS and Quest Diagnostics are offering testing at multiple locations across the state.

The state has reported over 150,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with over 10,700 fatalities.