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W.Va. Attorney General warns of fake COVID-19 text messages

The FTC said consent must be given otherwise the messages are illegal. / (MGN)
The FTC said consent must be given otherwise the messages are illegal. / (MGN)(WVLT)
Published: May. 28, 2020 at 3:41 PM EDT
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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning consumers about a text messaging scam that attempts to take advantage of efforts to identify those who have potentially been exposed to COVID-19.

The scam involves unsolicited text messages from a supposed contact tracer, according to a news release from the Attorney General's office. The scammer might impersonate a state or local health department and urge the recipient to click on a link for more information.

Those who click on the link expose their phone or other device to malware and the potential theft of sensitive information.

“Scammers never cease to find new ways to steal from consumers,” Morrisey said. “Consumers must remain ever vigilant and protect their personal, identifiable information. Never click on an unfamiliar link and never share information without verifying who is on the other end.”

The scam was first reported by the Federal Trade Commission last week. The FTC reports legitimate contact tracers will not ask for Social Security numbers, money or bank account information.

The Attorney General's office says legitimate contact tracers are hired by state and local health departments. They are tasked with identifying those who have had contact with a confirmed, COVID-19 patient. The tracer then instructs those individuals to quarantine and keeps a daily check on their symptoms.

Morrisey says anyone who receives a text message as such should contact the health department in question via its phone number and/or website.

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