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Avoid COVID Scams and Identity Theft

It seems like crisis either brings out the best in people… or it brings out the worst. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in scams and identity theft that play on people’s fears about COVID and our new environment and guidelines.

The good news is that many of these scams have the same warning signs that other identity crimes have, so you can watch for these red flags and avoid becoming a victim.

What are some of the most common scams today, and how can you identify them? Let’s take a look.

Threatening You with Jail, a Large Fine, or Criminal Charges

The biggest scam indicator? Someone trying to scare you into revealing information by saying that you are facing jail time, a significant fine, or other legal action. 

Real police do not demand personal information in return for not arresting you.

There are no laws requiring you to share information about your health or vaccine status over the phone or internet, so don’t fall for it!

A Request for a Photo of Your Vaccine Card

Your vaccine card has a lot of personal information on it, and scammers are using this data to steal your identity. Your name, birthdate, address, and other information is available on this card, so you don’t want to post it anywhere online.

You should also ignore any requests to take a photo of your vaccine card and send it to someone. No legitimate business or government agency will request this information.

Remember, any threats of legal action are fake. The authorities do not threaten legal action over the phone.

Offering COVID Testing in Return for Personal Information

If you receive a phone call or email offering you COVID testing or other COVID services in return for personal information, do not respond. Unfortunately, these scammers are targeting Medicare beneficiaries and then using your Medicare information to commit medical identity theft.

If you make an appointment for COVID testing or vaccination online, be sure you are directly accessing the approved testing site’s website. Ignore social media ads and go directly to the pharmacy or provider’s website instead. 

If you receive a call that claims to be from a doctor’s office, thank them for their time and tell the caller that you will call the doctor’s office directly. That way you know for sure that you’re talking to a legitimate person and not a scammer.

An Offer of Government Money

The stimulus checks that the government issued during COVID-19 helped many people make ends meet. Unfortunately, scammers saw this as an opportunity to commit identity theft and steal information from unsuspecting consumers.

If you receive a call that claims to be from the IRS or another government agency asking for your personal information in return for government assistance, do not give the information out. These are scammers.

Keep in mind that as of March of 2022, there is no new stimulus money coming. If things change, any payment will be processed the same as previous checks. You do not need to give out personal information over the phone or online to get your payment.

Stay Safe from Identity Theft

Anytime someone asks you for personal information over the phone or online, you should immediately end the conversation. No government agency or doctor’s office works that way. If you have any concerns, you can always hang up and call the official phone number for that organization to double-check.

Don’t let the fear of COVID scare you into becoming an identity theft victim. And if you’d like more help protecting your identity, contact us today!