Coronavirus leaves Medicare Beneficiaries and the Public Open for SCAMS
Across Connecticut and the country, reports of scams related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) are being reported. Medicare beneficiaries are often the targets of scams. Scammers obtain Medicare numbers and bill for services not medically necessary or possibly not received by the beneficiary. It’s estimated 60 billion Medicare dollars are lost each year due to scams. Everyone, not just Medicare Beneficiaries, should be aware of COVID-19 Scams.
Scammers will take advantage of what’s going on to appear as though they are a legitimate agency or healthcare provider trying to help. They use fear to prey on people so it’s important to recognize that if someone is trying to scare you into taking action, it could be a scam. You should hang up on any robocalls and do not press any buttons as that can lead to receiving more robocalls even when you think you are unsubscribing.
Fact-check any information; examples of current scams include the selling of fake masks and other products to prevent COVID-19.
Medicare beneficiaries should be wary of anyone asking for their Medicare, Social Security or bank account numbers. Personal information can be used to bill Medicare and commit medical identity theft.
The SMP recommends:
- 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. 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, or treatments. Do not allow people in your home and call the police.
- To see what Medicare covers or will cover related to COVID, visit https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus
- Contact your local SMP for help regarding concerns related to Medicare fraud or abuse.
The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) is ready to provide you with the information you need to PROTECT yourself from Medicare fraud, errors, and abuse; DETECT potential fraud, errors, and abuse; and REPORT your concerns. SMP’s help educate and empower Medicare beneficiaries in the fight against health care fraud. Your SMP is located at your local Area Agency on Aging and can help you with your questions, concerns, or complaints about potential Medicare fraud and abuse issues. To locate the Connecticut Senior Medicare Patrol, contact your local Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-994-9422 or visit https://portal.ct.gov/AgingandDisability/Content-Pages/Topics-A-Z/Area-Agencies-on-Aging to find your local office’s direct number.
Please read press release below for information related to other types of COVID scams.
CT Senior Medicare Patrol
SCAM ALERT: CORONAVIRUS INSPIRES SCAM ARTISTS TO TARGET CONSUMERS
Agencies warn consumers to avoid imposer scams and claims of miracle medicines
Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 – The Departments of Consumer Protection (DCP), Public Health (DPH) and the Office of the Attorney General William Tong are warning consumers that scam artists are following the headlines and trying to take advantage of consumers’ during heightened attention to coronavirus.
Scam artists may post, email, and text to promote false information about “cases” of the disease in your neighborhood that do not exist, and bogus prevention medication in order to obtain your personal information and your money. They also may ask you to donate to victims through a sham charity or offer “advice” about false treatments for the disease.
To avoid these types of scams:
- Don’t fall victim to click bate. If you receive an email or text claiming to have news about coronavirus, do not open it, and get accurate information about any updates in Connecticut on DPH’s website at www.ct.gov/dph or the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) website
- Watch for imposter emails. Look out for emails claiming to be the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). If you’re not already subscribed to receive emails from them, you won’t get one out of nowhere.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations or miracle treatments. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the coronavirus, ignore it. You won’t hear about medical breakthroughs for the first time through an ad or sales pitch.
- Do your homework when considering making donations. Don’t donate to any organization claiming to help those sick from the coronavirus unless you have done your research. Any charity soliciting in the State of Connecticut must be registered with DCP. You can verify their registration at www.elicense.ct.gov.
- Watch out for scam “investment opportunities”. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded “companies” can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus.
“Whenever a topic is of high interest to the news, and to consumers – scam artists take advantage of the opportunity to get your attention,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, “That becomes even more true when families are concerned about health risks. We want to encourage families to be more alert than usual, and to report any suspicious activity. Remember, the Department of Public Health is the most reputable place to find information about the coronavirus in the State of Connecticut.”
“Scammers are always looking for new ways to profit off fear, and don’t let them. Check your facts by getting accurate information from a reputable source, like the Department of Public Health, CDC or WHO webpages. If you do receive a suspicious solicitation, including donations to victims or invitations to invest in miracle cures and vaccinations, we want to know about it,” said Attorney General Tong.
Any consumers who notice one of these scams or feel they have fallen victim to a scam should report it to DCP or the Office of the Attorney General as soon as they are able using the below contact information:
Consumer Protection https://ct.gov/dcp/complaint 860-713-6300
Office of the Attorney General https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint 860-808-5318
Department of Consumer Protection Lora Rae Anderson email@example.com (860) 713-6019 (office) (860) 247-8711 (cell)
Office of the Attorney General Elizabeth Benton firstname.lastname@example.org 860-808-5324 (media office)
Department of Public Health Av Harris
860-509-7106 (office) 860-250-8391 (cell)
CT Department of Aging and Disability Services l State Unit on Aging | 55 Farmington Ave 12th Floor, Hartford CT 06105 |
local: 860.424.5274 | in-state toll free: 1.888.218.6631 | Aging and Disability Services Website