KASARAGOD: In a suspected case of a data breach, COVID-19 patients, who recovered, said they were getting calls from unknown numbers in Bangaluru seeking their details, including passport numbers.
The callers were not identifying themselves and spoke in broken Malayalam and fluent Hindi, they said.
Calls to the number -- 8045701100 -- do not go through. But Truecaller app has marked it as spam and also Aarogya Setu -- the central government's COVID-19 tracking app.
"The callers appeared fraud as they were not willing to share any details or purpose of this data collection," said Mohammed Sadik, a patient who recovered from COVID-19.
He said he got calls on April 21 and April 22. "I got suspicious when they asked for my passport details," he said. "When I refused to share the passport number, the caller spoke in broken Malayalam but hung up," he said.
Mohammed Harris, another patient who recovered from COVID-19, said when he got a call, he hung up and shared the development with other patients in a WhatsApp group they formed to stay in touch. "Most of them said they got the call and we became suspicious," he said.
The callers wanted to know the date of arrival, when they tested positive, when the recovered, the country from where they arrived, and passport details, among others.
On March 27, 34 persons tested positive in Kasaragod. For the first time since the pandemic hit the district, the details of the patients of the day -- names, addresses, and phone numbers -- were leaked in social media. Curiously, the details of patient no. 29 was missing from the list.
"First we thought only those who were on the list of March 27 got the spam calls. But other too got calls. We think the data of COVID-19 patients have been compromised," he said.
COVID-19 patients TNIE spoke to said they had got many calls from local police and special branch and health department officials and neighborhood health workers. "We cooperated with all of them, and the state government has our entire details. Why should we be spammed now," said Harris.
Special branch DySP Sunil Kumar M said the police have come to know of the calls. "We are investigating it. We don't know who is calling them," he said.