Whenever there is a health crisis, scammers quickly find ways to cheat people out of money. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, scammers are still at work. They’re cheating, stealing personal information and selling things that don’t work or should actually be free. Scammers use robocalls, social media, phishing emails and other ways to take advantage of people’s fears, anxieties, and confusion around COVID-19.
Misinformation is often used to trick people into falling for a COVID-19 scam. When you hear something new about COVID-19, ask yourself these questions to check if the information is trustworthy:
For more information, see Spotting Misinformation.
Look out for these red flags to protect yourself, your family, and community from COVID-19 scams.
Being charged to receive the vaccine.
Being offered ‘the vaccine’ that will be sent directly to your home.
Receiving phone calls, texts, or emails demanding personal information in order to receive a vaccine or cash prize.
Being sold a COVID-19 vaccination record.
Scammers are offering to help you with deliveries or errands and then running off with your money.
Scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to steal insurance numbers, personal information, and money. If anyone contacts you asking for your insurance number, Social Security number, or other personal information in exchange for something, it’s most likely a scam.
Older adults are especially vulnerable because scammers take advantage of their loneliness, ease of trust, savings, and challenges with technology. Senior Living explains the latest COVID-19 scams aimed at older adults and how to prevent them, as well as tips for senior-friendly technology. The California’s Department of Aging has information on issues faced by older Californians including scam warnings. Sign up for Fraud Watch emails from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Remember, government agencies will:
Check information from your health insurance company, Medi-Cal, or Medicare for signs of billing fraud. Review your explanation of benefits, claims statements, and summary notices for any services that you don’t recognize.
Here are a few more tips to prevent Medicare fraud.
There have been many reports of COVID-19 scams involving Social Security.
Visit the Social Security Administration’s website for updates about COVID-19 scams.
If you’ve already paid someone or given personal information to a scammer, here is what to do next:
Stay up to date – with reliable information. Beware of fake news and hoaxes as well as scams surrounding COVID-19.
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