Fraud schemes related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are on the rise. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General recently warned that scammers are offering COVID-19 tests in exchange for personal data, including Medicare information. Other scams include offering fake vaccines and medical supplies, promising student loan forgiveness for an upfront fee and tricking people into paying a fee for emergency relief payments from the federal government. These are only a few examples of how scammers are attempting to profit during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Fraudsters are targeting people in a number of ways, including telemarketing calls, emails, text messages, social media platforms and door-to-door visits. The personal information collected can be used to commit insurance fraud, financial fraud and identity theft.
During this time, please beware of offers for COVID-19 tests, medical supplies and in-demand products. Also beware of debt-relief and financial offers, and do not share your personal or financial information in exchange for unsolicited goods and services. Remember, government agencies will not contact you to ask for your credit card, bank account, Medicare or Social Security information.
Protect yourself from scams:
- Be cautious of requests for your Medicare or health insurance number, Social Security number or financial information.
- Be suspicious of unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. Also ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites. A physician or other trusted health care provider should assess your condition and approve any requests for COVID-19 testing.
- Disregard offers for COVID-19 vaccines. They do not yet exist.
- Do not pay upfront fees for student loan forgiveness or financial relief checks from the federal government.
- Beware of fake charities requesting financial support.
- If shopping online, use reputable websites and read the seller’s description of the product closely.
We hope our members and stakeholders are healthy and well, and we continue to urge you to follow the safety precautions issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov), as well as the authorities in the state where you live. STRS Ohio will continue to use our website and email news service to keep members and stakeholders informed of any changes at STRS Ohio resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.