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Protect Yourself from Medicare Scams and Other Coronavirus Fraud

Posted by David Cheatham, May 2, 2020

Whether it’s health concerns, financial worries, or simply a desire to help others, many of us are feeling strong emotions right now. Unfortunately that opens the door for con artists who wish to take advantage of the situation, and coronavirus-related scams are on the rise. Learn how to recognize signs of a scam, so you can protect your money and identity.

Medicare scams. Remember that no one from Medicare will ever call you to ask your Medicare number or other identifying information, unless you have called them first. They cannot enroll you over the phone unless you call, and a Medicare representative will not come to your door.

Think twice before purchasing any advertised treatments or preventive against coronavirus. So far the FDA has not approved any drug or vaccine for use against Covid-19, so anyone trying to sell you such a product is likely to be a scammer preying upon your fear. They might want to bill Medicare for this “service”, but are likely just trying to obtain your Medicare number from you.

The FDA did approve one home test, but it will be available through a doctor’s order. So no, you can’t just order a home test online or through someone who solicits you on the phone.

Check your Medicare Summary Notices regularly, and report any claims that you don’t recognize. Those could be an indication that someone is fraudulently using your number.

Suspicious phone calls or emails. It is important to remember that the IRS never calls (they only send letters in the mail) and won’t ask for information via email, either.

If you qualify for an economic impact payment, they don’t need any information in order to further “qualify” you. Anyone asking for that information is likely a con artist who wants access to your personal data or bank account (or both). The IRS determines your eligibility for a payment based upon your 2018 or 2019 tax return, so as long as you filed a return you don’t need to do anything else.

Those who filed taxes electronically will receive a payment directly deposited into their bank accounts. Otherwise, paper checks will be mailed to those who file taxes by mail.

If you wish to check the status of a potential impact payment, or provide your bank account information, go to the IRS website directly at www.irs.gov/coronavirus

Remember, if something sounds suspicious, it probably is. Hang up the phone or skip that email, and contact that agency yourself.

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