Coronavirus Scams Targeting Older Americans

Scammers are taking advantage of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to con and scam people into giving up their money. During this time, people 65 and older aren’t interacting with as many friends, neighbors, or senior service providers due to efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19, making it harder to prevent scams. Knowing about possible scams is a good first step toward preventing them.  

Here are a few coronavirus-specific scams to look out for:

Computer hacker and cyber crime

COVID-19 Vaccine, Cure, Air Filter, Testing Scams

The Federal Trade Commission warned the public about an increase in the number of scams related to vaccines, test kits, cures, treatments, and air filter systems designed to remove COVID-19 from the air in your home. There is no vaccine for this virus, and there is no cure.  Testing is available through your local and state governments, but these tests are not delivered to your house. If you receive a phone call, email, text message, or letter with claims to sell you any of these items, it’s a scam. 

Fake Charity Scams

A charity scam is when a thief poses as a real charity or makes up the name of a charity that sounds real to get money from you.  Be careful about any charity calling you asking for donations. Do your research by visiting the website of the organization of your choice to make sure your money is going to the right place. 

“Person In Need” Scams

Elderly woman getting bad newsScammers could use the circumstances of the coronavirus to pose as a grandchild, relative, or friend who claims to be ill, stranded in another state or foreign country, or otherwise in trouble, and ask you to send money. They may ask you to send cash by mail or buy gift cards. These scammers beg you to keep it a secret and act fast before you ask questions. Take a deep breath and get the facts. Don’t send money unless you’re sure it’s the real person who contacted you.  Hang up and call your grandchild or friend’s phone number to see if the story is real.  

Social Security Benefits Scams

While local Social Security Administration (SSA) offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, SSA will not suspend or decrease Social Security benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments due to the current pandemic. Scammers may mislead people into believing they need to provide personal information or pay by gift card, wire transfer, internet currency, or by mailing cash to maintain regular benefit payments during this period.  

Bottom Line

Say NO if anyone contacts you and asks for your specific and private information by phone, in person, by text message, or email. Report scams to www.ftc.gov/complaint. The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, can connect older adults and their families to services, call 1-800-677-1116.

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