July 15, 2024
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Scams to Watch Out for During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Whenever there is a crisis, Medicare fraudsters come out of the woodwork to seek new ways to steal your personal information and to make money. The current health crisis is no exception. Many of the federal agencies, from the Federal Trade Commission to the Department of Justice, have issued alerts and warnings for Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to be more alert than ever about avoiding, and whenever possible, reporting scams related to the health crisis. Since the crisis is expected to last many more months, the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) of New Jersey wanted to issue its own alert to spell out the new schemes and scams that have come to the SMP’s attention.

On March 13, 2020, a public health emergency was declared. From that date and continuing today, the SMP has seen a proliferation of new scams. Below are some of the more common scams and what you should do:

  1. Ignore offers for vaccinations and home test kits. When the new vaccines become readily available, check with your Department of Health or your state website to find out when and where you might be eligible to receive the vaccine.
  2. Scammers are selling products to treat or prevent COVID-19 without proof that they work.
  3. Hang up on robocalls. Scammers use illegal sales calls to get your money and your personal information. If you have a telephone with a screen, rule number 1, rule number 2 and rule number 3: DON’T PICK UP THE PHONE IF YOU DO NOT RECOGNIZE THE NUMBER. If the call is legitimate, they will leave a message. Then you can decide if you want to return the call.
  4. Watch out for phishing emails and text messages. Don’t click on links in emails or texts you didn’t expect.
  5. Research before you donate. There are fake charities that have appeared on the internet and look legitimate. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. Get tips on donating wisely at ftc.gov/charity.

Now that vaccines and vaccinations are available, the SMP also wants you to be aware of some vaccine related scams. Here are some simple rules:

  1. You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine. That’s a scam.
  2. You can’t pay to get early access to the vaccine. That’s a scam.
  3. Nobody legit will call about the vaccine and ask for your Social Security, bank account or credit card number. That’s a scam.
  4. Ignore any vaccine offers that say any of the above or ask for personal or financial information. That’s a scam.

If you are a beneficiary, family member or caregiver in New Jersey, report these scams to the Senior Medicare Patrol of New Jersey at (732) 777-1940 or call the SMP hotline at ((877) SMP-4359. For more information on the SMP program, visit the SMP website at www.seniormedicarepatrolnj.org. Complaints can be filed directly from the website. Additional information is also available at www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams  and www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

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