BEWARE OF COVID-19 SCAMS
By Linda Lindquist
When there is trending news, the criminal cyber scammers try to scam money and steal identity information from unsuspecting people. COVID-19 Pandemic, Testing and Vaccinations are trending issues this past year. The pandemic is still raging so I expect these issues to be trending for the coming year.
Scammers have mastered techniques of “social engineering” using the emotions of fear and greed to “hook” you to do what they want you to do. Their scams are being delivered in phishing emails, text messages, Facebook ads and phone calls. Trusting and vulnerable Senior citizens have to be particularly vigilant.
What Not to Do:
We are all afraid of getting the corona virus; the consequences could be hospitalization, death or long-term illness if we get the virus. The scams take advantage of our fears to steal our money and identities.
- Scammers offer to come to your home to give you a COVID-19 test, either charging your credit card or taking your Medicare number.
- Scammers offer protective protection equipment (PPE face masks) to protect you from the virus. The problem is that you pay with your credit card and never receive any product.
- Scammers offer pills that they claim will prevent you from getting the virus, paid on your credit card. Even if you get a product, none are proven to prevent the virus.
What to Do:
It is best to order masks and hand sanitizers from Walmart or Amazon; do not trust any unsolicited offers that come into your email or by phone.
Where to get a COVID-19 test:
If you have symptoms or plan to travel by airplane, you need to get a test. Cape Coral has contracted with Curative to give COVID-19 tests with results in 48-hours.
What Not to Do:
Due to a scarcity of vaccines, it is frustrating trying to get an appointment to be vaccinated. This has led to a panic about when, where and how to be vaccinated. Scammers take advantage of our fear and frustration. There is a national plan in the USA to give 100 million vaccines in 100 days (by end of April 2021), so I expect the supply of vaccines to improve.
- Scammers send phishing emails offering to schedule appointments to get vaccines. They are looking to steal your identity (name, phone, social security number, Medicare number, birth date, mother’s maiden name, credit card number, etc.).
- Scammers have intercepted the coronavirus vaccine appointment line and ask for your credit card or offer a Walmart gift card (as frustrating as it was to get through, hang up on the scammers). https://www.news-press.com/story/news/2021/01/06/scammers-intercept-unknown-number-lee-county-covid-19-vaccine-hotline-calls/6561370002/
What to Do:
Do not give any personal information to an unsolicited email. Do not call their number, click any links or reply to their email.
How to Get Your Vaccine:
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines have passed phase 3 clinical trial testing and have been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. FDA and CDC. Three more manufacturers vaccines are currently in clinical trials.
The Department of Health, Pharmacies and Publix are scheduling reservations to give vaccinations. You need an appointment but they fill within minutes, depending on supply of the vaccine. Be patient.
- Publix grocery stores (reservation are required)
- CVS and Walgreens - are delivering the vaccine to residents of nursing homes that have arranged a vaccination day for their residents.-
- Walmart and Winn-Dixie –
- Cape Coral testing and vaccination information - https://www.capecoral.net/government/city_government/city_manager/covid-19_info/testing_options.php
- Florida Department of Health (reservations are required 1-833-618-2001) – Health care providers and Florida residents older than 65 are given priority (Florida Executive Order 20-315)
- Proof of residency (needed in Florida as of January 21)
- Consent form for Moderna vaccine (print and bring with you)