Just like email scams, text message scams use current events to trick you in to responding and giving away your personal information. Text message scams ratchet up the urgency and scare tactics to fit the short message format and try to get you to respond without much thought. The latest text-based scam tied to current events is using COVID-19 tracing to get you to download an app or visit a website and give personal information.

You receive a text message saying “Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms…More info at link” If you tap on the link, you are sent to an official looking website that starts asking for personal information, or attempts to download an app that will ask for access to your information.  Don’t tap the link. (Source)

In Michigan, you may get a text message from the ‘2051’ prior to being called by contact tracers from the state or county health departments. The phone call itself will come from 866-806-3447, ‘MI COVID HELP’ or your local health department.

Health department tracers will never ask you for personal identification like your Social Security Number, driver’s license, or credit card information. 

If a caller claims to be working for the health department and asks for personal identification or financial information, it is a likely a scam. For more info on how Michigan is conducting contact tracing, go to the Michigan.gov site about tracing.