Don’t Fall Victim to Coronavirus Fraud

Life-altering events bring out the best and the worst in people. They also tend to reveal insurable risks as well as the benefits of carrying coverage against those risks.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been just such a life-altering event. It follows that coronavirus scams began to pop up almost as soon as containment measures became “the new normal,” and that fresh cybersecurity risks surfaced alongside social distancing protocols as more people began spending more time on digital devices.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners was among the many voices, both within and outside the insurance industry, to raise a red flag when it came to cybercriminals praying on coronavirus fear in order to exploit companies and individuals with the following cybercrimes:

  • Vaccine and treatment scams
  • Shopping scams
  • Medical scams
  • Charity scams
  • Phishing and malware scams
  • App scams
  • Investment scams

 Vulnerable populations
As consumers, please be on the alert for various COVID-19 related scams. Among them: Fraud aimed at Americans’ economic stimulus dollars, calling this extra income “an enticing target for scammers.” Some of these scams include:

  • Stimulus payment scams— Fake phone calls and phishing schemes try to get your stimulus cash. The IRS won’t phone, text, or email you about your payment and won’t require a fee to get it.
  • Contractor scams— Con artists may try to persuade you to sign over your stimulus payment or charge your insurance for poor home improvement work or damage repair.
  • Fake insurance protections— Scammers are offering low-priced “corona insurance” to cover COVID-19 treatment. Just hang up.
  • Trip cancellation insurance— Standard travel insurance may not cover pandemics. Be wary of offers that cover COVID-19 related trip cancellations.

There is also a lot of coronavirus fraud aimed at seniors. Below is a list of a half-dozen scams that regulators and consumer advocates believe seniors should know about. 

  • False insurance cancellation – scammers say a loved one is sick in the hospital and needs coverage for a ventilator urgently. They tell you, you can pay over the phone to reinstate their coverage.
  • “Act Now!” deals – If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Reject sales pitches wanting you to decide quickly and pay or miss out on a “great opportunity.”
  • Medicare scams – Seniors are being targeted by COVID-19 robocalls and other scams that ask for your Medicare numbers to make bogus claims. Scammers even approach residents at senior housing and assisted-living facilities for Medicare ruses.
  • Bogus corona insurance – Scammers are pitching COVID-19 health coverage. They promise full coverage at low prices but are scamming to steal your money and identity.
  • False DNA testing – Testing scams prey on seniors, claiming tests are needed and paid by insurance. Fraudsters seek victims through cold calls, door knocking, and emails.  Just say no.
  • COVID-19 vaccine tests or kits – Con artists are pitching free vaccines and tests, claiming they’re insured.

Avoid becoming a victim
Consumers, in general, should follow these tips from the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud to protect themselves from COVID-19 scams:

  • Do not respond to robocalls, unknown texts, emails or door-to-door solicitors.
  • “Free” COVID-19 tests, vaccines, supplies or treatments are shams. Ignore them.
  • Never click on links from unknown sources. Clicking may download malware.
  • Contact a trusted doctor or other health provider to check your medical status, order a COVID-19 test — and learn the facts.
  • Verify requests for your Medicare or Medicaid info before responding.

We encourage you to reach out to AgQuest/MN River Insurance with any questions you have regarding your current insurance coverage. Our agents are more than happy to walk you through your policies and help you understand the fine details of your coverage; giving you peace of mind you need. Don’t leave yourself exposed; contact one of our agents today!

AgQuest Insurance is an equal opportunity provider.