Scammers and fraudsters are professional criminals who will take advantage of any situation, no matter how heartless, to try and steal your money or identity. A number of scams have been reported that target the fears and concerns people have relating to COVID-19. These scams are attempts to gain access to your Medicare number, banking information, credit card information, and any personal information that can lead to identity theft. Be aware of the following:
• Residents of senior housing and assisted living facilities are being approached by non-government entities/individuals about opportunities for COVID-19 testing. THIS IS A SCAM. All legitimate testing in Vermont is by doctor’s request ONLY.
• Beneficiaries are receiving robocalls about “special virus kits” and being asked for their Medicare number to send a “free” test. THIS IS A SCAM. There are no home test kits.
• Health care agencies are receiving emails offering COVID-19 testing services that can be ordered through a telehealth provider. THIS IS A SCAM. While telehealth and telemedicine have been approved and expanded during this time, you should contact your primary care provider to access these services.
• A resident reported receiving an email notifying them that they were “shortlisted for the United States Relief Funds settlement” and requesting the resident respond to “receive your benefits.”
If someone calls or knocks on your door regarding offers of the above or similar, hang up or turn them away. If you feel you have contracted the symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider who will guide you on the next steps.
Be careful with who you trust online. There are emails sharing links to maps and other information claiming to be related to the spread of the virus. These links, once clicked, can give the scammer access to your computer. They can hijack your personal information and even hold it all hostage for money. For up-to-date information, visit the websites above for the Vermont Department of Health, the CDC, and the WHO, and your own trusted news source.
Since most people are practicing social distancing and self-quarantining, online communication has increased exponentially. This is an opportunity for online dating scammers to take advantage of vulnerable adults looking to find companionship during this time. On Facebook, be vigilant about friend requests. Although it’s nice to add to our list of Facebook friends, many of their profiles are fake and designed to lure you into a friendship or relationship. Communicate only with people you know. Phone calls and texts with friends and family members are best.