Watch Out for Continued COVID-19 Scams

Watch Out for Continued COVID-19 Scams

Unfortunately, scammers are continuing to exploit the fear and isolation people are feeling during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place. Beware of scammers posing as government officials, bank employees, or health professionals. They want your money and sensitive personal information, including Social Security number, Medicare number, credit card information, and bank account information.

Below are some common scams and red flags to watch for taken from our partner’s, Institute on Aging’s new COVID-19 Scams FAQs resource sheet (available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian).

Common scams:

  • Sell you fake respiratory masks, COVID-19 testing or vaccine kits, or COVID-19 cures.
  • Ask for charity donations. You can look up charities at give.org or charitynavigator.org.
  • Promise direct deposit of your stimulus check.
  • Tell you your Social Security check has been cancelled due to COVID-19 and try to get your personal information to verify.
  • Offer “relief money” to those affected by COVID-19.
  • Say a loved one has contracted COVID-19 and needs money wired for their treatment.
  • Contact you pretending to be from the WHO, CDC, or a volunteer agency.
  • Ask you to download a mobile app that tracks and sends you COVID-19 updates.

Red flags to watch for:

  • A sense of urgency. Scammers will use the words “urgent”, “act now”, “important”, and “official” to pressure you into acting quickly.
  • Asking for payment via wire transfer or gift cards.
  • Requesting your Social Security number, Medicare number, credit card information, or bank account information.
  • Links from unknown or unverified sources.
  • Purported government agencies contacting you by phone, email, or social media.
  • Emails from personal accounts – beware of emails from Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL addresses, etc.
  • Websites that look like important COVID-19 news and information sources. These sites could install malware on your computer that damage your computer or gain unauthorized access to your information.
  • Unverified apps. These apps can lock your phone and steal data from your device. Only download apps with a verified publisher from Google Play or Apple Store.

If you come across any such scams, please report them to our California Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-613-7080. You can also download and share our COVID-19 fraud alert, available in 9 languages.

Karen Fletcher
Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.

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