5 COVID-19 Scams to Stay Away From
While social distancing has been a definite adjustment, we’ve seen it bring a lot of good. We’ve heard countless stories of the helpful neighbor buying groceries for their elderly friends, citizens sewing cloth masks to share with high-risk populations and people donating food.
There have been good acts, but unfortunately there are still people looking to capitalize on the COVID-19 panic through scams.
At a time when stress levels are higher than normal, anyone can be susceptible to scams. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has been keeping a close eye on the scams. We looked at those they have flagged, and others circulating online, and compiled the top five.
5 common coronavirus scams
1. Fake “corona” insurance
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has flagged that fake health insurance agents may call and offer insurance coverage for COVID-19. At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), we are covering the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment for members. No additional health insurance is needed.* If you do receive one of these calls, hang up.
2. Cancelled health insurance
You might see an increase in robo-calls or emails from scammers alerting you that your health insurance coverage has been cancelled. This is typically done to gather your personal information or place malware on your computer. At Blue Cross NC, we are dedicated to the health and well-being of our members and helping those who have recently lost health coverage. If you are worried your health insurance has been cancelled, call the number on the back of your member ID card. If you need to explore your coverage options, please visit our website or call 1-888-4171 for help.
3. Coronavirus cures and tests
Many scammers have started drive through pop-up coronavirus testing sites at traditionally trusted locations like churches, mission houses, and gas stations. Some may also call and share the location of COVID-19 testing sites that are not legit.
These sites can charge up to $250 and put your personal information at risk for future fraud. Scammers selling non-FDA approved testing kits over the phone, social media, and door-to-door have also been on the rise. These ploys are aimed at getting your personal and insurance information.
Scammers may suggest that you should be tested for the presence of Coronavirus antibodies. The benefits of having evidence of antibodies in your blood are still being verified by the FDA. The accuracy and benefits of the test should be discussed with your personal health care provider before getting tested. Again, Do not share your insurance card with telemarketers, and instead check with your personal health care provider.
If you believe you need to be tested for COVID-19, first consult with your doctor using telehealth. Follow your doctor’s directive on where to be tested.
Currently, there is not a vaccine for COVID-19. Do not agree to pay someone for a COVID-19 cure, as one does not exist. Many fake miracle cures have been marketed on Facebook as preventative or curative treatments for COVID-19. They can cost upwards of $4,000 and are not proven to work.
Medications such as Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin, and other anti-anxiety medicines are currently not proven treatments for the virus.
4. Free masks
It is true that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending the use of cloth face masks when going out in public. But be wary of text messages or calls from anyone offering free or discounted face masks. Some callers may pretend to represent the Red Cross or other well-known organizations. Face masks are in short supply, and it is best to call the organization directly if you receive an unsolicited call.
5. Senior scams
Seniors are likely to be targeted with COVID-19 scams, since they are one of the most at-risk populations for the virus. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud warns seniors to be careful about those offering free virus tests at senior centers, health fairs or in your home. Often scammers use these avenues to steal people’s medical or personal identity.
If you’re worried that you are being scammed, here are two easy ways you can protect yourself.
1. Double Verify
If you ever receive an unsolicited email, phone call, or text asking for personal or financial information, always double check the source. The best course of action is to hang up and call your bank, health insurer, or the organization directly to ask if the request is credible.
2. Second Guess Your Click
Scams frequently appear as emails or as text messages that include links to click on. As a rule of thumb, never click on a link that is from a sender you do not recognize. Clicking could result in a cyber-attack.
Even during a pandemic, scammers are still out there. Being aware of the scams most related to COVID-19 and taking the extra steps to verify the legitimacy of the offer are two of the best ways to protect yourself.
If you ever have questions about the status of your health insurance or coverage, call the number on the back of your member ID card.
*All announced COVID-19 measures apply to Blue Cross NC’s fully insured, Medicare Advantage and Federal Employee Program Members. Drug coverage and pharmacy changes apply to Blue Cross NC’s Medicare Part D members. Self-funded employer groups have the option to include the waiver of costs and prior approval for testing in their employees’ plans.