The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has identified a number of scams operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following are ways to avoid becoming victims of the scammers.
The difference between a real COVID-19 contact tracer and a scammer is obvious. Legitimate tracers need healthcare information, not money or personal financial data.
Don’t respond to texts, emails or calls about COVID-19 economic stimulus checks from the federal government.
Ignore offers for vaccinations. Scammers are offering to sell products to treat or prevent COVID-19 without proof these products are effective.
Be wary of ads for COVID-19 test kits. Most test kits being advertised have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and aren’t necessarily accurate.
Hang up on robocalls pitching everything from low-cost health insurance to work at home schemes.
Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). They will not call you! Instead check https://www.coronavirus.gov/ and https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus to obtain the latest information from the CDC. Don’t clink on links in emails from sources you do not know.
Do not fall for the scam for a service to clean furnace ducts and chimneys with a guarantee that it removes any chance of contracting the coronavirus.
Hang up on a caller stating a new government regulation requires all Americans must take a COVID-19 test and a request is made for your health insurance information including Medicare or Medicaid.
Do your homework when it comes to donations. Never donate in cash, by gift card or by wiring money to a charity whose intent you cannot verify. You will probably have a better outcome donating to a local charity with an established reputation.
The Department of Health and Human Services office of Inspector General has set up a national hotline (1-800-447-8477) to report healthcare abuse during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, you can report your experience online to the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Human Service at: https://oig.hhs.gov/