Health officials, law enforcement warn of COVID-19 contact tracing scams in Minnesota

State health officials and law enforcement are warning Minnesotans about contact tracing scams that have cropped up lately amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Contact tracing is identifying anyone who may have had contact with someone who has a confirmed case of the coronavirus, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. 

READ NEXT: What is coronavirus contact tracing?

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann said Friday that state health officials have been made aware there may be scammers who are reaching out to people pretending to be contact tracers. 

In one case, she said the contact tracer told the individual that they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and that they needed to be tested. 

“They asked this individual for a credit card number so that they could send them a testing kit,” Ehresmann said. “We will never do that.” 

Ehresmann said MDH does call people to inform them if they have been exposed to COVID-19, but “we will never ask for credit card information. We will never ask you for any money.” 

“We just want people to be aware that is out there and that this is not something that is coming from public health,” she said. 

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office also issued a warning Friday about contact tracing scams, saying they have received a few reports of scam text messages or phone calls related to COVID-19 around the community. 

In one of the incidents, an individual received a text message containing “vague data” indicating they were in close proximity of someone who has COVID-19 and asking them to follow a link to fill out information. 

Another scam involved a phone call from someone claiming the same. The scammer said they would send the individual a test kit and asked them for their address and credit card information. 

“If in fact you are contacted related to contact tracing, they'll have information for you and won't have to ask questions like seeking payment. Never give someone your credit card information over the phone if they claim to be doing contact tracing. That is not part of the process,” the sheriff’s office said.