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Contact tracing target of latest phone scam

Contact tracing is the latest theme phone scammers are using in Kewaunee County to get people’s personal information. In some recent cases reported to the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department’s dispatch center, scammers are calling homes saying they were in contact with someone positive with COVID-19 and if they provide a credit card number they can get a test sent to their house. After confirming the actual contact tracing protocol with the public health department, Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski reminds residents to be vigilant when protecting themselves from scams.


Joski recommends people call the Sheriff’s Department when they are targeted for a scam as it can help spread awareness in the community and provide banks with a basic report if an account was compromised. 



Over the years, I have written numerous articles on the topic of scams. Although the premise of any scam is basically the same the subject matter can and will change based on seasonal events, new technology or services which legitimately exist, or with the advent of a local / national emergency. The first scam I will share has its roots in this last category which in this case is our current challenge with the management of COVID-19.


The scam goes like this:  You receive a call that you were likely in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. They will not share any further information stating it is HIPPA restricted. They then tell you that you must also get tested in the next 72 hours, and that they can send you a test kit to your home. They will then ask for your credit card information to send out the test kit to you.


This is of course a scam. If in reality you did happen to come into contact with someone who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, you would be contacted, however the message would be to request a test from your local healthcare provider which would be done for you at no cost.


The second scam which was attempted on one of local community members involves the past due notice of an AT&T bill which resulted from that person’s debit card being in a “Locked Status”

The caller in this case was very polite and requested the 16 digit card number so that they could “Unlock” their card and facilitate that payment. Again this is a scam. In this case the caller was smart enough to hang up immediately and did then contact AT&T which stated they had neither a record of any overdue bills from that person.


I want to commend both individuals for sharing their stories with law enforcement so that we can help spread awareness to prevent anyone from falling victim to such scams. I also want to provide information regarding local law enforcement’s role when such scams are attempted. Due to the fact that most if not all of the calls from these perpetrators are not traceable our ability to follow up is limited. In many cases local banks do require a report from local law enforcement to assist them in their investigations, and we are very glad to provide a basic report of what was called in to our office, but as far as criminal investigations our role is very limited. Also, if the targets in these scams are not actually victimized by either the sharing of their information or the sending of money, a crime was not perpetrated. Unfortunately the attempt of such scams is not on the books.


What I would like to share as I have in the past is the very simple yet consistent formula for the basis of such scams. In all scams the tactic of the perpetrator is to raise your emotional level. That can be both positive emotions (Lottery Scam) of negative emotions (COVID-19 Scam). It is a basic fact that when our emotions are elevated, our logic is minimized. We must be able to step back from the situation in order to more logically and reasonably assess the information provided to us before acting on it. In some cases this may mean asking another person to review the information, or asking the person calling to provide a call back number that they can be reached  so that you can gain some background on what was put before you. This is why most if not all of these scams demand immediate action as they know time is not on their side. With every minute, their potential victim’s emotion will begin to subside as logic sets in. In the end the best solution has been and will always be to just hang up!

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Cheryl Jome

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