December 28, 2020
by DD Council Staff
Video from the U.S. Office of Inspector General
"A single dose of information can vaccinate you against fraud," said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in a recent press release that urged Ohioans to be alert of COVID-19 vaccine-related scams. New scams are emerging that are related to the vaccine distribution.
For example, consumers could see scammers impersonating distributors, providers or local health department claiming to need personal information such as a Social Security number to get on a list to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Other scammers could pretend to be able to help consumers jump to the front of the line to get a vaccine, but ask for advanced payment to secure their place in line. These communications could come through email, phone call, postal mail, text message or even through social media accounts.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) also issued a fraud alert that focused on scammers targeting older adults and people with disabilities. ACL noted that as the number of people and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic grows, so do the scams associated with it.
"Scammers use public health emergencies as opportunities for new fraud schemes, and because older adults and people with disabilities are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19, they may target these populations," stated ACL. It is very important to be vigilant and protect yourself from potential fraud concerning COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
In addition, the U.S. Office of Inspector General stated, "Fraudsters are offering COVID-19 tests, HHS grants, and Medicare prescription cards in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, these services are unapproved and illegitimate."
The Inspector General offers these tips to protect yourself:
- Be vigilant and protect yourself from potential fraud concerning COVID-19 vaccines. You will not be asked for money to enhance your ranking for vaccine eligibility. Government and State officials will not call you to obtain personal information in order to receive the vaccine, and you will not be solicited door to door to receive the vaccine.
- Beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their personal, medical, and financial information. Medicare will not call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19 related products, services, or benefit review.
- Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately.
- Do not respond to, or open hyperlinks in, text messages about COVID-19 from unknown individuals.
- Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites. If you make an appointment for a COVID-19 test online, make sure the location is an official testing site.
- Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone claiming to offer HHS grants related to COVID-19.
- Be aware of scammers pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number, financial information, or attempt to set up a COVID-19 test for you and collect payment information for the test.
If you suspect COVID-19 health care fraud, report it immediately online to the Inspector General's Office or call 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).