June 29, 2020 Update
June 29, 2020: The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) encourages all Virginians to respond and engage with legitimate contact tracing calls and emails while remaining vigilant against scams. Caller ID will read “VDH COVID Team.”
The Commonwealth employs contact tracers to notify individuals who have been exposed to known cases of COVID-19. Contact tracers will offer information, encourage individuals to monitor themselves for symptoms, and refer those who develop symptoms for medical evaluation and testing to help contain the spread in Virginia.
Contact tracing saves lives by preventing the spread of COVID-19, so we encourage every Virginian to do their part and answer calls, text messages, or emails from the Commonwealth’s contact tracers.
Recognizing the signs of a scam is important. Contact tracers will not ask for money or information such as a Social Security Number (SSN), bank account details, or credit card numbers. The Commonwealth does not charge individuals for contact tracing services.
Contact tracers will offer to enroll Virginians in a voluntary contact monitoring platform called Sara Alert, which individuals can use to update local health departments on their health status during the period of time they are participating in public health monitoring. The Sara Alert system is secure and always contacts users from the same phone number or email: 844-957-2721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to being vigilant, there are several other ways to stay safe from scams:
- use multi-factor authentication for online accounts;
- enable auto updates for the operating systems and apps on your electronic devices to ensure you have the latest security;
- and back up the data on your devices regularly, so you won’t lose valuable information if a device gets malware or ransomware.
Verizon Communications, Inc provided the Caller-ID feature for VDH contact tracers without charge.
Additional information from the Federal Trade Commission on contact tracing scams is available here.