Be alert for COVID-19 scammers

The Iowa Healthcare Collaborative alerted Veterans Memorial Hospital of news of COVID-19 scams which they had received from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Scammers are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams.

Examples shared by the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative included:

• Bad actors are trying to capitalize on the roll-out of COVID vaccines. Anyone calling or texting and asking for payment for a vaccine is a scammer.
• COVID-19 text scams may falsely advertise a cure or offer bogus tests.
• Robocall scams have focused on health and financial concerns connected to COVID-19.
• As online shopping increases, so do delivery notification scam calls and texts.
• Fraudsters trying to  steal insurance information, money or both.
• Contact tracing scams are on the rise.
• Coronavirus scammers are targeting older Americans.
• Peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile payment apps help consumers avoid contact with vendors, but missteps in P2P apps use can be costly.

Tips for Avoiding COVID-19 Scams
• Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers, or any others that appear suspicious.
• Never share personal or financial information via email, text messages or over the phone.
• Be cautious when being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
• Scammers often spoof phone numbers to trick people into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call to ask for personal information or money.
• Do not click any links in a text message. If a friend sends a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren’t hacked.
• Always check on a charity (for example, by calling or looking at its actual website) before donating.

Those who think they’ve been a victim of a coronavirus scam, contact law enforcement immediately. File coronavirus scam complaints online with the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/. Refer to consumer resources from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at https://www.fcc.gov/covid-scams for more information relating to the prevention of coronavirus scams.
 

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