As the novel 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-2019) spreads locally and worldwide, people’s concern and anxiety are high. This has created a situation ripe for fraud with multiple new COVID-19 scams targeting seniors. The California Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) is warning members to beware of offers to test for the COVID-19. Members are urged to protect themselves against the different methods scammers are using in order to gain personal information.
The SMP warns against giving out your Medicare number to anyone over the phone, via email or anyone visiting your home offering to test for COVID-19 by sharing how scammers are targeting seniors and offering tips on how to protect yourself.
What you should look out for:
- Scammers approaching residents of senior housing and assisted living facilities about “opportunities” for COVID-19 testing
- Robocalls about “special virus kits” and asking for your Medicare number to send a “free” test
- Emails offering COVID-19 testing services that can be ordered through a telehealth provider
How to protect yourself:
- Contact your own doctor if you are experiencing potential symptoms of the Coronavirus disease or COVID-19 and need testing.
- Do not give out your Medicare number, Social Security number, or personal information in response to unsolicited calls, texts, emails, home visits, or booths at health fairs and other public venues. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes as well.
- Be suspicious of robocalls or anyone going door-to-door to offer free Coronavirus or COVID-19 testing, supplies, or treatments. These are scams.
- Carefully review your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB), looking for errors or claims for products or services that weren’t received.
- Follow the instructions of your state or local government for other actions you should be taking in response to COVID-19
The fraud alert, developed by the SMP is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Armenian and Farsi and provides tips on how to protect yourself from these scams and where to report them.
For additional information on healthcare fraud, contact the Sourcewise Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program: (408) 350-3200, option 2.