As the number of people and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic grows, so do the scams associated with it, according to the Better Business Bureau.
Scammers use public health emergencies as opportunities for new fraud schemes, and because older adults are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19, they may target older populations, a press release from the BBB’s Texas Senior Medicare Patrol states.
“There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine for COVID-19 and though there may be treatments for symptoms, there is no ‘cure,’” Jennifer Salazar, TSMP program director, said in the release. “However, scammers often use fear-based tactics to convince people that a vaccine or cure is now being offered.”
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health officials may contact members of the public if they believe someone may have been exposed to the virus, they will not need to ask for insurance or financial information.
The Senior Medicare Patrol recommends that Medicare beneficiaries:
—Contact your own doctor if you are experiencing potential symptoms of COVID-19.
—Do not give out your Medicare number, Social Security number or personal information in response to unsolicited calls, texts, emails, home visits or booths at health fairs and other public venues. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes as well.
—Be suspicious of anyone going door-to-door to offer free coronavirus or COVID-19 testing, supplies or treatments.
—Carefully review your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits, looking for errors or claims for products or services that weren’t received.
—Follow the instructions of your state or local government for other actions you should be taking in response to COVID-19.
—Contact your local SMP for help. SMPs empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families, and caregivers to prevent, detect, and report health care fraud, errors and abuse.
Senior Medicare Patrol volunteers help educate and empower Medicare beneficiaries in the fight against health care fraud. To locate the local Senior Medicare Patrol, contact Jennifer Salazar at 888-341-6187.