2020 was a crappy year for many people, but it’s turned into a great time to be a scammer. Why? All in all, there’s a tsunami of COVID-19 cases. There’s hope on the horizon in the form of vaccines. And many people are running scared. Indeed, it’s an excellent time to run any one of these three coronavirus scams, and that means you and I need to be extra vigilant.
Three coronavirus scams
The contact may come by phone, email, or text, but the story is the same—COVID-19 vaccines are available early. And you may be selected to qualify for priority treatment. Pretty awesome, right? Just pay a small fee or provide your Medicare number, and you’ll get priority treatment.
A contact tracer calls to ask questions about your exposure to COVID-19. This is an especially difficult issue because legitimate contact tracers deserve every bit of cooperation they can get. But, if the caller asks for your Medicare number or financial information, you’ll know that call’s a fake. In another twist, a scam caller might ask if you’re interested in paying to set up a COVID-19 test.
Not everyone has equal access to COVID-19 testing. For some, that access may be limited by geography, availability, or personal income. This sketchy availability makes some people a prime target for a scam offering fast and easy testing. Again, this scam is straightforward. All you do is pay a small fee or provide your Medicare number. Either way, the person contacting you is offering an expedited COVID-19 test.
What these scams have in common
- All three of the scams are designed to either get your money or, if you’re on Medicare, your Medicare ID.
- All three can be an entree to Medicare fraud, which is a huge business. In 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated there were $29 billion in ‘improper payments.’
- These scams can start with an email, a text message, or a phone call. Some scammers have even started going door-to-door and soliciting in person.
Three tips to avoid three scams
- Never give out your personal information, including your Medicare ID if you have one, to an unknown party.
- You already know not to click on a link or respond to a message, right? Even if it’s an offer for an early vaccine, expedited testing, or to schedule an appointment for these services.
- Social media sites are great places for cute kitty videos, but they’re terrible for finding a service provider. If you need information about contact tracing, coronavirus testing, or vaccines, visit the CDC website.
Did you like this scam tip? Why not check out last month’s tip, 5 tips to avoid a package delivery scam?