Con artists have latched onto the COVID-19 pandemic as a new way to extract personal information from individuals, by impersonating health care workers and contact tracers with the North Dakota Department of Health.
State officials said they have received a number of reports of so-called “spoofing” attacks, in which cybercriminals misrepresent themselves as a contact tracer or health care worker, with the goal of tricking people into revealing personal information.
This type of cybercrime often uses technology that can mask real phone numbers. Many of the calls have been emulating a North Dakota number, like the NDDOH public health hotline, 1-866-207-2880.
The caller may claim that you have been found positive for COVID-19, even though you’ve never taken a test for coronavirus. This should be a signal that something is wrong with the call, and that this might be a scam.
If you have received such a spoofing call, you should not attempt to talk to the person. Hang up and report it to the Federal Communications Commission at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=39744.
Actual North Dakota contact tracers or health care workers will identify themselves, and they will never request sensitive personal information like account numbers, social security numbers, or access codes over the phone.
Those who have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting their test results should keep in mind that calls from a legitimate North Dakota contact tracer or health care worker will likely come from a personal cell phone, not the state’s hotline number.
Health care professionals have been using individual phones to be more accessible to those tested, according to a media release sent out by the North Dakota Joint Information Center.
“The State of North Dakota Cybersecurity Operations Center does not have the authority or accessibility to manage ‘spoofing’ attempts of this type, but would like to remind citizens to be aware and vigilant regarding these potential threats,” the release said.