OSSIPEE — The Carroll County Sheriff's Department and Conway police are warning the public about scam calls pretending to be contact tracers for COVID-19.
On Thursday, Sheriff Domenic Richardi shared a post saying scammers are calling to tell people they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and that they need "to self-isolate for seven days and take a COVID-19 test." Then the scammer will try and sell a test to a victim.
"I actually put that on the Facebook as a pre-emptive notice before it becomes an issue in this area," Richardi told the Sun on Friday. "It had been posted by law enforcement in Massachusetts."
The state Department of Health and Human Services responded to an inquiry from the Sun, saying the state does have contact tracers to find people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus and help them get tested, but said, "Contact tracers will never ask for money. Contact tracing doesn’t require your bank account information or credit card number. Your immigration status doesn’t matter for contact tracing, so real tracers won’t ask."
According to the state Joint Information Center for information about the pandemic in New Hampshire, "A contact tracer might get in touch to discuss results of a test you know you took, or because someone you’ve been in contact with tested positive. New Hampshire contact tracers will always attempt to contact via telephone first before sending text messages or emails."
Anyone receiving a call they’re uncertain about can contact the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Additionally, callers can contact the N.H. COVID-19 State Coordination Testing Office at (603) 271-5980.
Scams can be reported to the NH Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-468-4454.
The Federal Trade Commission also has posted information on its website at ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams about how to avoid coronavirus scams. They also emphasize that contact tracers will never ask for money in any way and never ask for credit card, bank or Social Security information.
"Legitimate tracers need health information, not money or personal financial information," the federal website says people should ignore offers for vaccinations and home test kits and be wary of ads for test kits.
Most test kits being advertised have not been approved by the FDA, and aren’t necessarily accurate, and scammers are selling products to treat or prevent COVID-19 without proof that they work.
Meanwhile, Conway PD’s Investigative Services Division told of another ongoing scam. Individuals have been calling people, claiming to be a representative from the Conway Police Department and advising people that they have an outstanding warrant for their arrest. They then demand payment in the form of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, or by purchasing gift cards and asking for the card numbers via email or over the phone (they will then convert these gift cards into cryptocurrency).
The Conway Police Department wants people to know it will never solicit funds to clear an outstanding arrest warrant. People should be aware that anyone soliciting them to pay with gift cards or cryptocurrency should be considered to be a scam.
“We see way too many of our visitors and citizens lose substantial amounts of their life savings each year due to these scams, which typically originate outside of the United States. Please be vigilant and don’t fall victim to these scams!” the Conway Police Department said in a statement.