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Avoiding Scams: Covid19 Edition

Unfortunately, scammers aren’t above using any situation to their advantage- including a pandemic. Below is a run through of various scams to be aware of.  

The Vaccine/Cure/Test Scam 

Scammers are taking advantage of the fear surrounding Coronavirus by calling older adults and offering to send them testing kits, vaccines, or even filters that filter out the virus (no such thing exists).  

Important to remember:  

  • Air filters CAN NOT filter the virus out of the air 
  • No one is calling to offer to send out tests out to people, especially if they have no reason to believe you have the virus 
  • Coronavirus testing is available at various places throughout Washtenaw County  
  • As of now, there is no vaccine or cure for Coronavirus/Covid19 
  • This link has information about how to tell the difference between a contract tracing call and a scam call 

The Stimulus Check/Medicare Scam 

Scammers are using their old tricks to trick older adults out of their stimulus money. The scammer may ask for personal information over the phone pretending to be with the government or Medicare. They may also tell you that they’re from the IRS and you owe them money because there was a difference between your stimulus check and what was deposited.  

Important to remember: 

  • The stimulus is being given to you by the government and you do not need to pay anything to receive it 
  • The IRS/Medicare have your information on file. If they need information from you, they won’t call/text you for your personal information 
  • Pay attention to the language used. The stimulus check is officially called the “economic impact payment.” Anyone referring to it as a stimulus check when calling you is likely a scammer 

The Family Member Scam 

This is a variation on the popular scam where a scammer calls an older adult pretending to be a grandchild who’s in jail or otherwise in trouble and needs money ASAP.  

Important to remember: 

  • Don’t answer the phone unless you know who’s calling 
  • You can hang up and call the relative they claim is calling to make sure the story checks out 
  • Is the person rushing you or pressuring you to make a decision? If yes, it’s probably a scam 
  • Is the person asking for you to pay them by wiring them money or using a gift card? If yes, it’s probably a scam.  

The Charity Scam 

This is when a scammer calls an older adult posing as a charity and ask for a donation.  

Important to remember: 

  • Don’t answer the phone unless you know who’s calling 
  • You can always hang up if you feel uncomfortable 
  • Check a reputable website such as GuideStar or the Better Business Bureau to make sure a charity is legitimate 

General tips to keep in mind

  • Be mindful of where you get your information from. What we know about the virus is rapidly changing, and the CDC is one of the best sources. 
  • Don’t answer the phone unless you recognize the number. 
  • Be suspicious of callers who want you to send money- especially via gift card. 
  • Be suspicious if a caller has results from a test you don’t remember taking. 
  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is 

Click here to learn more about common scams aimed older adults  

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