Critter Corner: Beware of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

Dear Angel,

My sister got a call telling her that she was exposed to COVID-19 and the caller asked her for personal information and $150 to sign her up for a vaccine quicker. She thought it could be a scam, so she hung up, although she would like to get vaccinated soon. Do you know anything about such scams and how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones?

Thanks!

Shanida Vaxseen

Dear Shanida,

Some scammers have been using public health emergencies as opportunities for new fraud schemes. Because older adults are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19, they may target them.

The FBI is warning the public about several new scams concerning the COVID-19 vaccine. Criminal fraudsters are wasting no time taking advantage of the vaccines being rolled out.

In early January, people already reported receiving emails, messages, and robocalls from scammers claiming to be from government agencies. Some even promised they could deliver the vaccine within days for only $150. It’s important to know you most likely will not be asked to pay to get the vaccine during the public health emergency. Also, you cannot pay to get early access to it. Lastly, those over 65 can get the vaccine now in our area. Please see Magic’s recent article on the subject for more details.

Some Facts About the Covid Vaccine for Medicare Recipients:

You likely will not need to pay anything out-of-pocket to get the vaccine during this public health emergency;
You cannot pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine;
You cannot pay to get early access to the vaccine;
You will not be solicited door to door to receive the vaccine;
No one from Medicare or the Health Department with contact you;
No one from a vaccine distribution site or health care payer, like a private insurance company, will call you asking for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or your credit card or bank account information to sign you up to get the vaccine.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommends the following:

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, treatments, or vaccines;
Beware of providers offering other products, treatments, or medicines to prevent the virus. Check with your health care provider before paying for or receiving any COVID-19-related treatment;
If you get a call, text, email — or even someone knocking on your door — claiming they can get you early access to the vaccine, STOP. That’s a scam;
Carefully review your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB), looking for errors or claims for products or services that weren’t received;
Follow the instructions of state or local government for other actions you should be taking in response to COVID-19.

What Should You Do if a Senior Loved One is a Victim of a COVID-19 Scam?

If you or a loved one receives a suspicious text, call, or email related to the COVID-19 vaccine, or if you think they might be a victim of a COVID-19 hoax, you should file a complaint with the FTC immediately at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or file a complaint with their state or territorial attorney general through consumerresources.org. You should also report any compromised financial information to the bank or credit card issuer and report compromised personal information such as Medicare, Social Security, or health insurance ID numbers to the appropriate organization.

Hope this is helpful,

Angel

 

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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