It’s still not easy to get tested for COVID-19 in many states, so it’s not surprising to learn that scammers are exploiting the shortage. They’re especially preying on the elderly.
Money Talks News’ recent article entitled “Are You on Medicare? Beware Coronavirus Scammers” reports that scammers use stolen personal data to commit Medicare fraud and identity theft, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Medicare warned beneficiaries in a recent email, “Unfortunately, scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to steal your Medicare number, personal information and money. And they’re using robocalls, social media posts and emails to do it.”
Some of these criminals are even knocking on people’s doors to talk them out of their personal data.
Seniors are advised to not divulge their personal information, including their Medicare number, with anyone, except a trusted health care provider or other qualified expert. If you’re unsure who’s legitimate, call for help and advice from your Senior Medicare Patrol, volunteer groups funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Health and Human Services says that your personal information can be used to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft.
You may also wind up being responsible for charges, if Medicare denies the claim for an unapproved test. You need to protect your Medicare and Social Security information, because it can be used in fraud schemes. If you think you’ve been contacted by a scammer, do the following:
- Report suspected criminals to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or write to [email protected]
- Be on guard, if someone requests your Medicare number, when you didn’t ask for services.
- Be suspicious of those offering coronavirus supplies or testing.
- When using social media, don’t click or respond to advertisements and offers for coronavirus testing.
- If you think you should get a COVID-19 test, ask your doctor or doctor’s office.
In addition, the FBI advises everyone — not only seniors — to be aware of and to report:
- Bogus emails purporting to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Phishing emails, which try to trick you into sharing personal information.
- Counterfeit treatments and equipment, like sanitizing products, masks, face shields, goggles, respirators, protective gloves or gowns.