Don’t Let Your Guard Down—Especially Now
Every day we see new evidence that criminals are updating scams to take advantage of Covid-19. But this episode has now lasted long enough that we are learning more of what to watch for.
Among the lessons learned so far:
Be Cautious When Browsing Covid-19 Websites
According to the Justice Department, many of the scammers use websites with domain names that contain the words “Covid-19” or “coronavirus.” In some of these cases, the crooks xare posing as legitimate public health agencies. In one instance, for example, scammers claimed they were collecting donations for the Red Cross.
Remote connections have been lifesavers for many of us who can work from the comfort of home. But our dependence on reliable computer connections may create yet another opportunity for con artists—if we’re not careful.
Tech-support scams, which pre-date the pandemic, have gained a boost from unwitting individuals who are working remotely. Crooks can target home computers with pop-up windows claiming that there is a computer virus or malware—and offering a phone number to call for help. Don’t be fooled, and warn family members to be on the look-out for these scams.
Sooner or later, we all need genuine tech support. Make sure you can independently verify that the service is legitimate.
And remember that tech can be used for good. Fraud-monitoring technology can be used to alert you to suspicious transactions in your own finances and even notify you regarding erratic activity in your parents’ accounts, across the miles. While being careful about scams online, you can fight fire with fire—using trustworthy technology that serves as an ‘extra set of eyes.’
Don’t Fall for “Treatments” and “Cures”
As of this writing, there are none. The FTC has cracked down on “treatments,” varied as music CD’s, intravenous doses of Vitamin C, Chinese herbs, ultraviolet light therapy, air purifiers, ozone therapy, bioelectric shields and other products. One California company falsely claimed that its herbal supplement offered prevention and treatment for Covid-19. (The company is also in hot water for claims that its product can treat cancer.)
We hope that effective treatments become available as soon as possible. And when they do, you will hear about it in the news. But until then, don’t be reeled in by appealing sales pitches for “treatments” and “cures.” To see a list of warning letters from the Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration, click here or go to: https://www.ftc.gov/coronavirus/enforcement/warning-letters.
Safeguard Your Medicare Number
Elder fraud is a by-product of this pandemic. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, people should be watching out for the following coronavirus scams:
- Robocalls offering respiratory masks that are never sent.
- Social media posts asking money for fake charities, or pretending that they will send a stimulus check in return for bank information.
- Useless testing kits, cures, “immunity” pills, and protective equipment.
Medicare employees will not contact individuals unexpectedly and ask for Medicare numbers or other personal data. They will not show up at people’s front door or try to sell them something. For further information about Medicare scams, click here.