COVID-19 fraud: What to watch out for

Authorities are warning the public about frauds related to COVID-19, including bogus offers of tests and other services aimed at obtaining sensitive information from victims.

Via telemarketing calls, text messages, social media, and door-to-door visits, fraudsters are offering services in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. The scammers hope to use the information to illegally bill federal healthcare programs, according to the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To guard against attempts at medical identity theft, officials recommend:

  • Be cautious of any COVID-19 testing that requires a person’s financial or medical information in order to receive a free test. Over-the-counter or at-home tests are sold at reputable retailers and pharmacies. And each household in the U.S. can have free COVID-19 test kits shipped directly to their homes by contacting gov.
  • Offers to purchase COVID-19 vaccination cards are scams. Valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination can only be provided to individuals by legitimate providers administering vaccines.
  • Photos of COVID-19 vaccination cards shouldn’t be shared on social media. Posting content that includes your date of birth, health care details or other personally identifiable information can be used to steal your identity.
  • As volunteers go door-to-door to inform communities across the country about COVID-19 vaccines, watch out or fakers. Don’t provide personal, medical, or financial details to anyone in exchange for vaccine information, and obtain vaccinations from trusted providers.
  • Don’t give your personal, medical, or financial information to anyone claiming to offer money or gifts in exchange for participation in a COVID-19 vaccine survey.
  • Medicare won’t call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19 related products, services, or benefit review.
  • Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. Hang up on any suspicious call.
  • Don’t respond to or open links in text messages about COVID-19 from unknown individuals.
  • Report suspected COVID-19 healthcare fraud at 800-447-8477.