Coronavirus (COVID-19 ) Scams

author imagePosted by Mascoma Bank on May 15, 2021

As we all try our best to contribute to our community’s health and well-being during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it’s wise to remember that there are also those who look at stressful events as an opportunity for criminal activity. Even as we celebrate how far we’ve come in managing the pandemic and look forward to gaining back even more normalcy, we need to be aware that scammers are working hard to take advantage of lingering uncertainty.Be aware of the following potential indicators of fraudulent activity:

  • Requests asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list. Remember, the COVID-19 vaccine is free.
  • Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine
  • Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee
  • Unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources

Be proactive to avoid COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud:

  • Consult your state’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtain a vaccine through such channels.
  • Check the FDA website (fda.gov) for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
  • Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals.
  • Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly report any errors to your health insurance provider.
  • Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals.
  • Don’t share your COVID vaccine card on social media. Your vaccine card has sensitive personal information that could include your full name, date of birth, where you got your vaccine, and the dates you got it. By posting images of this document on social media, you’re sharing sensitive data that may fall in the wrong hands, putting you at risk of identity theft.
  • Be aware of individuals selling fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards or encouraging others to print fake cards at home.

Contact Tracing Scams


Contact tracing is a public health technique used to identify individuals who have had close contact with someone known to have the virus. Because of the urgent need to notify those who might have been exposed, tracers will often use a variety of methods to contact the individual, including calls and text messages. Legitimate tracers will need to confirm your name, address, and birthday. This is information that they already have, so you won’t need to provide it to them.

What scammers are doing: Scammers are impersonating contact tracers in texts and calls, claiming the contacted party has been exposed to COVID-19 and needs to act quickly. Scam text messages often include links to websites that request Social Security numbers or insurance information. Some even attempt to collect bogus payments for testing. Clicking these links can also download malware onto a mobile device, allowing scammers to access your personal data. In addition to bogus texts, identity thieves are also using robocalls and voicemail call-back tracing scams to steal a target’s money, personal details, and insurance information.

Legitimate contact tracers will not ask for:

  • Insurance information
  • Bank account information
  • Credit card numbers
  • Social Security numbers
  • Other types of payment info

 

Avoid Other Coronavirus Scams


  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or from experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). If the email is purportedly from an official organization, do your due diligence and check it by going to their official website or contact them through their official channels to verify the veracity of the email.
  • Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state, and local government agencies.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, gift card, or wired money, don’t do it.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities” in companies that claim to prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) and national healthcare organizations make ideal targets for fraudsters to impersonate. An example of their tactics would be to contact you via email asserting that the attachment contains pertinent information to help protect you from the disease. The attachments may contain a Trojan virus designed to steal your personal data.
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