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Fraud Related To COVID-19 Is On The Rise. Here's What To Look Out For.

An illustration of a hooded figure hovering over a computer with a warning label on its screen.
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COVID-19 scams can be perpetrated online.

Scams are taking place over the internet, phone calls, or even in person. Some scams offer tests, fake relief or assistance, or prescription cards. If you're asked for your personal information and are unsure of the source, be wary.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is alerting the public about fraud schemes related to COVID-19. Scammers are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams.

Most scammers are offering COVID-19 tests, HHS grants, pandemic relief or assistance, or prescription cards in exchange for money or personal information. They can then walk away with your cash or use your information to commit identity theft or fraudulently get government assistance and benefits.

5 Things About COVID-19 Health Care Fraud

More recently, with COVID-19 vaccines being approved for use in the U.S., many scams are popping up offering people the chance to get a vaccine for a fee.

Here are some ways to protect yourself from scams:

  • Be wary of any advertisements or offers — online, over the phone, or in person — for early access to a vaccine, especially if you are asked for a deposit. Also be wary if you're asked to give your personal information so you can be put on a waiting list. Government and state officials would not call you to ask for your information, nor would officials go door-to-door offering the vaccine to the general public.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited requests for personal, medical, or financial information. Medicare will not call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19 products, services, or to review benefits.
  • Be suspicious of unexpected calls offering tests, supplies, or aid. If you get a suspicious call, hang up immediately.
  • Do not respond to or open links in text messages about COVID-19 from unknown individuals.
  • If you make an appointment for a COVID-19 test online, make sure it is from an official testing site. Double-check any website links for misspellings or deceptive names. Ignore advertisements or offers for testing that come solely from social media or look like they're not from an official provider.
  • Do not give your information to anyone claiming to offer HHS grants related to COVID-19. If you get suspicious direct messages on social media, ignore them and do not respond with your personal information.
  • Be aware fo scammers posing as COVID-19 contact tracers. A legitimate contact tracer will never ask for your Medicare number or financial information, or attempt to schedule a COVID-19 test for you and collect payment for the test.

If you suspect fraud, you can report it to the Office of the Inspector General.

For more information, visit the Office of the Inspector General website. For more information on vaccine-related fraud, you can visit OIG here.

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