Thomaston Police Department in Maine is warning people not to fall for a new scam text message after several people received a text message claiming that they had been in contact with someone who has tested positive.
The message goes on to encourage the user to self-isolate and get tested. The text message provides a link that is not from an official agency, but which could potentially install malware on your device when clicked.
In a Facebook post, the police department explained: "If you receive a text message like the one pictured below, DO NOT click the link! It is not a message from any official agency. It is, however, a gateway for bad actors to find their way into your world."
"The virus is not the only invisible enemy," they added. "Be vigilant against all threats!"
Several people reported receiving a similar text message in the comments of the Facebook post. "I got that message I text back saying well duh I work at the hospital," one user wrote.
The Better Business Bureau has also been warning users about text messages claiming to be from various governmental agencies trying to get you to click a link to take an “online coronavirus test."
"No such test currently exists but if you click on the link, scammers can download malware onto your computer and gain access to your sensitive personal information," the agency states.
While this text message is a scam, technology giants Apple and Google are working on contract tracing technology to inform people when they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
This technology, however, will be included in the operating system of phones and will not require users to click any links, as the above text message encourages users to do.
Apple and Google plan to release the technology in mid-May, which will allow government health organizations to use a phone's Bluetooth radio to determine whether a smartphone's owner has come into close contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus. Anyone who has come into contact with that person can then be notified to self-isolate or get tested themselves.
Apple and Google will have phones record contact with each other if they have spent more than a few minutes within range of one another.
According to WIRED, Google and Apple say that the technology won't involve "tracking user locations or even collecting any identifying data that would be stored on a server."
A spokesperson told the publication: "This is a very unprecedented situation for the world. As platform companies we’ve both been thinking hard about what we can do to help get people back to normal life and back to work effectively. We think in bringing the two platforms together we can solve digital contact tracing at scale in partnership with public health authorities and do it in a privacy-preserving way."
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.