Medicare Information Is Being Stolen: Protect Yourself From Scammers Pandering to COVID Fears

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has issued a warning in regard to scams relating to COVID-19. Fraudsters are offering services through testing sites, telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms and door-to-door visits in exchange for personal data, including Medicare information.

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According to the agency, personal information can be used to bill federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft.

The agency is advising the public to not give out financial or medical information to receive a free test at COVID-19 testing sites. If you make an appointment for a COVID-19 test online, make sure the location is an approved testing site. Check official government websites for a list of approved testing sites.

Scammers are also selling fake at-home COVID-19 test kits in exchange for your personal or medical information. Only purchase FDA-approved test kits from legitimate providers.

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Volunteers may go door-to-door to inform communities about COVID-19 vaccines; however, the agency said not to give out personal, medical or financial details to anyone in exchange for vaccine information. And anyone offering to purchase your vaccination cards are also scammers. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination can only be provided by legitimate providers administering vaccines.

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Scammers have been committing fraud through fake COVID-19 surveys. Do not give out personal, medical or financial information to anyone claiming to offer money or gifts in exchange for your participation in a vaccine survey. Do not share photos of your vaccination card on social media and beware of scammers using social media to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams.

Be wary of how you dispose of certain materials such as syringes, vials, vial container boxes, vaccination record cards and shipment or tracking records. These items could also be used to commit fraud. 

Do not answer unsolicited requests for personal, medical and financial information and beware of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. The same goes for texts from unknown numbers — do not give out personal or financial information to anyone claiming to offer HHS grants related to COVID-19.

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Scammers are also pretending to be contact tracers. According to the agency, legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your medical or financial information or attempt to set up a COVID-19 test.

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The agency wants beneficiaries to keep in mind that Medicare will not contact you to offer COVID-19 related products, services or benefit review. If you suspect COVID-19 health care fraud, report it online or call 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.

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