Free face masks?
If your first reaction is, what do I have to do to get one? Think again. This is a scam in which a bad actor offers free face masks in exchange for your Medicare or Social Security number. Obviously, you know not to give out your Social Security number. Right? Please tell me you do. But a Medicare number? Why would anyone want that? It turns out, for a lot of reasons.
Medicare fraud is big business
In 2017 alone, it’s estimated that the amount of Medicare fraud was more than $50 billion. If your Medicare card falls into the wrong hands, it can be used in these scams and you might find yourself an unwitting accomplice.
Tip #1: Protect your Medicare Number and only give out the number to medical service providers you know.
Free face masks for your Medicare Number
After any disaster or national emergency, scammers look for new lures to use in their schemes. Face masks are one of those current hot items. Scammers are cashing in on the need for face masks by posing as Medicare representatives or medical service providers and offering free masks.
Tip #2: Medicare won’t call you unless you call them first.
Masks for sale!
We’ve heard plenty over the past few months about N-95 face masks. While these single-use masks are the best available, according to the CDC, these masks should be reserved for medical personnel. That hasn’t stopped the market from offering them for sale, though. The scammers, of course, know this and are selling their own version of N-95 masks on places like Facebook, Instagram, and news sites. Unfortunately, the masks they send—if they send one at all—are cheaply made paper.
Tip #3: Save your money! Make your own mask with household materials.
Tip #4: Spend wisely. If you do buy a mask, don’t buy from an ad on social media, especially Facebook (a haven for misinformation). Instead, buy from a reputable reseller.
Tip #5: Protect your money. For any purchases you make online, be sure to use a credit card. This allows you to dispute a charge if something goes wrong.
Check out last month’s contact tracing scam tip.