Avoid COVID-19 Scams
Times of fear and confusion can make us more vulnerable to fraud. As we face the threat of COVID-19, the FBI reports there are an increasing number of fraud schemes related to the pandemic. These tips will help you protect your health and your finances.
Common fraud risks
COVID-19 fraud has taken many forms: fake emails from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), phishing emails promising a stimulus check and asking people to verify personal information, fake COVID-19-related charities soliciting money, bogus investment opportunities, offers to purchase counterfeit treatments or medical equipment, and more. Being aware of these risks can help keep you safe.
What you should (and shouldn’t) do
- Rely only on known and trusted resources for information about COVID-19.
- Ignore offers for vaccinations. There is currently no vaccine available for coronavirus, and you will hear about it in the news should one be developed.
- Be wary of advertisements for medications not recommended by the CDC, your local health department, or your physician.
- Don’t click on email links or text messages from sources you don’t know. This will protect your device from downloading malware.
- Don’t ever give personal information to a source you don’t know or trust—by email, phone, online, or in person.
- Do not accept unwanted telemarketing or “robocalls”.
- Do not accept offers of telemedicine services not authorized by your health plan.
- Beware of people knocking on your door offering to do COVID-19 home examinations.
- If you are ever unsure of whether an offer or request could put you at risk, ask your doctor or someone you trust before taking action.
How to research and report suspected fraud
- Report scams to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline (866) 720-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Medicare members can report fraud attempts to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at 1-800-MEDICARE (TTY: 1-877-486-2048) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or to the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office at 1-800-447-8477 (TTY: 1-800-377-4950).
- 50 or older? Get answers or report scams to the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360. AARP membership is not required.
- Federal stimulus check scams can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission. If you’ve been a victim, contact local law enforcement.
- Confirm donation requests with charity watchdogs like give.org or charitynavigator.org.
Get more ideas about navigating life in the time of COVID-19.