May 27, 2020

Don’t Fall for COVID-19 Scams

The Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol and Social Security Administration are warning Americans that scammers may use the COVID-19 health crisis as an opportunity to steal personal data such as Medicare numbers and banking information. Here are some things to look out for:

  1. Fraudulent letters threatening to cancel your Medicare or Social Security benefits unless you call the phone number listed in the letter.  If you call, scammers could trick you into providing payment with banking information, gift cards, wire transfers, or mailed checks, possibly claiming that this is required due to COVID-19 office closures.
    • Remember, Social Security will not discontinue, decrease, or suspend your benefit payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Social Security office closures due to the pandemic will not affect your Social Security benefit payments.  Any type of communication that states these things may happen IS A SCAM.
  2. Beware of people impersonating the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, or other types of health officials, offering COVID-19 testing in exchange for your Medicare or Social Security number, or other types of payment.  These scammers may go door-to-door offering these tests, suggesting you must act quickly to “keep your family safe.”
    • Remember, your physician or trusted healthcare provider must prescribe any requests for COVID-19 testing when it becomes available.
  3. Phone calls, emails, or online offers from health officials offering vaccinations or other treatments such as pills to prevent, cure, or treat COVID-19.
    • Remember, there is currently NO VACCINE for COVID-19.

Also remember:

  • You do not have to take any action in order to receive your stimulus check from the government.
  • Neither the Centers for Disease Control nor healthcare workers will go door-to-door, call you on the telephone, or send you an email offering COVID-19 testing.  Be suspicious of any unexpected phone calls or visitors to your home who claim to be offering COVID-19 tests or supplies.

Here are some ways to respond to fraud attempts:

  • Never click on email links or attachments from senders you do not know and trust.
  • Never pay someone you do not know with a credit or debit card, gift card, check, money order, or wire transfer.
  • If you receive a letter, text message, phone call, or email about a problem with your Social Security, Medicare, or bank account number, hang up immediately and do not respond.
  • If you suspect COVID-19 fraud, call the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or email disaster@leo.gov.  You can also report all scams to the Arkansas Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-866-726-2916.
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