Whenever there is a health crisis, scammers quickly find ways to cheat people out of money. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, scammers are still at work. They’re cheating, stealing personal information, and selling things that don’t work or should actually be free. Scammers use robocalls, social media, phishing emails and other ways to take advantage of people’s fears, anxieties, and confusion around COVID-19.
Misinformation is often used to trick people into falling for a COVID-19 scam. When you hear something new about COVID-19, ask yourself these questions to check if the information is trustworthy:
Look out for these red flags or warning signs to protect yourself, your family, and community from COVID-19 scams.
Scammers have stepped up their game to take advantage of people who are looking for a COVID-19 test.
If you need to get tested for COVID-19, choose an LA County vetted site or a trusted pharmacy or clinic. If you hear about a testing site on social media, check the source before you go. Scammers have been known to pose as a neighbor and list their location on a community networks and webpages.
If you need a test right away, you can get free self-tests that give results in 15-30 minutes. Learn about these and other ways to find COVID-19 testing on the DPH How to Get a Test webpage.
Visit ph.lacounty.gov/covidtests/how to find out how to get additional at-home FDA-authorized COVID-19 tests at no cost.
Tips for buying a test kit online.
NOTE: There are medications that are authorized by the FDA to treat and prevent COVID-19. They must be prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider. The medicines to treat COVID-19 should be started as soon as possible after symptoms start. The medicine to prevent COVID-19 is for people who cannot be vaccinated or who are immunosuppressed. To learn more, talk to your doctor, visit ph.lacounty.gov/covidmedicines or call the Public Health Call Center at 1-833-540-0473.
Scammers are offering to help you with deliveries or errands and then running off with your money.
Scammers are using the COVID-19 pandemic to try to steal insurance numbers, personal information, and money. If anyone contacts you asking for your insurance number, Social Security number, or other personal information in exchange for something, it’s most likely a scam.
Older adults are especially vulnerable because scammers take advantage of their loneliness, ease of trust, savings, and challenges with technology. Senior Living explains the latest COVID-19 scams aimed at older adults and how to prevent them, as well as tips for senior-friendly technology. The California’s Department of Aging has information on issues faced by older Californians including scam warnings. Sign up for Fraud Watch emails from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Remember, government agencies will:
Check information from your health insurance company, Medi-Cal, or Medicare for signs of billing fraud. Review your explanation of benefits, claims statements, and summary notices for any services that you don’t recognize.
Here are a few more tips to prevent Medicare fraud.
There have been many reports of COVID-19 scams involving Social Security.
Visit the Social Security Administration’s website for updates about COVID-19 scams.
If you’ve already paid someone or given personal information to a scammer, here is what to do next:
Stay up to date – with reliable information. Beware of fake news and hoaxes as well as scams surrounding COVID-19.
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