The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the way that most people live their daily lives. Unfortunately, this pandemic has also opened the doorway to scammers that target the elderly in our communities, as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned. Scammers intentionally target those who may have less experience protecting themselves online. Here, we want to discuss some of the most common COVID-19 scams that are targeting the elderly, how you can help the elderly members of your family, and who you can contact if you believe your family member has been the victim of elder financial abuse.
Common Types of Coronavirus Scams
Some of the most common COVID-19-related scams targeting older adults include the following:
- Home COVID-19 test kits. Scammers are playing on people’s fears related to the coronavirus and are claiming to offer test kits for the virus. In many cases, these scammers pose as officials from Medicare or Medicaid and ask seniors to verify their Social Security number or Medicare ID number.
- Bogus COVID-19-related products. Many of the current text and phone scams relate to falsely advertising products related to COVID-19. This includes fake vaccines, therapeutic drugs, or devices that claim to prevent or cure the virus. These scammers also prey on the fears of the elderly by telling them that there are shortages of items and that they need to stock up.
- Impersonating government agencies. Many scammers are posing as agents from the Social Security Administration or Medicare/Medicaid Services, telling elderly people their benefits will be decreased or suspended unless they provide various personal information or payments.
- Insurance scams. There are various scams that claim to offer low-cost health or life insurance. Often, these offers are made in conjunction with COVID-19 test kit scams.
- Stimulus-related scams. The stimulus packages passed by the federal government, and the confusion related to the rollout of these stimulus checks, opened up a window for many scammers to convince elderly citizens that they needed to release their bank account information in order to receive their funds.
- Charity scams. Many scammers prey upon the good nature of older adults by attempting to collect money for COVID-19-related charities that do not exist.
Helping Loved Ones Avoid Scams
The best way you can help elderly residents in your family is to make them aware that these scams exist. Let the elderly family members of your family know that the government will never contact them asking for their personal information or payments over the phone, through text messages, or through emails. Encourage your family member to:
- Not answer calls or respond to text messages from unknown or suspicious numbers.
- Not share any personal or financial information over text message, phone call, or email.
- Be suspicious of any caller that pressures them into making immediate payments.
- Not click on any suspicious emails or text messages, or any links inside these messages, even if they appear to come from family members or friends.
- Always verify charities by calling phone numbers on a legitimate website.
You should also encourage the elderly loved ones in your life to contact you immediately if they suspect someone is trying to scam them.
Contact a Riverside Elder Abuse Lawyer
If you suspect that your loved one has been the victim of a COVID-19-related scam, you may need to contact an attorney immediately. Attorney Joel Bryant is ready to conduct a preliminary investigation into your case and help you determine the next steps moving forward. This could include filing a complaint with the FCC as well as contacting local law enforcement. When you need an elder financial abuse attorney in Riverside, contact our law firm today.