Alabama Department of Senior Services Commissioner Jean Brown is warning Alabama senior citizens to be diligent to avoid scams during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “This is the ideal time for a scammer to prey on fear of our seniors. Stay alert and do not respond to a text, email or phone call from a sender that is unfamiliar, even if it looks official or appears to be from a respected agency or company.”
The Better Business Bureau has reported receiving reports from seniors that they are receiving text messages from scammers posing as the U.S. Department of Health, about taking a mandatory online COVID-19 test in order to receive the recently approved stimulus payment. Others are receiving emails stating they qualify for a payment and to click on a link to claim a check.
“Remember to protect your Medicare number and only provide it to your doctor and Medicare providers.” Commissioner Brown also reminds seniors to “be cautious of anyone going door-to-door offering coronavirus testing, supplies or treatments.”
With the current coronavirus pandemic, scammers will constantly change their tactics to catch people off guard. Here are some tips from the Better Business Bureau for seniors to protect against scams:
- Don’t be afraid to contact someone. Reach out to a family member, neighbor, or a company or organization you trust for advice. Research shows that individuals who are living alone, widowed, or those feeling isolated from others are more likely to engage with and lose money to scammers. If a scammer tries to keep you on the phone or rush you to a decision, hang up and ask someone for advice.
- Avoid “miracle” product claims that can protect you or your home from disease. Companies targeting older consumers with products and services claiming to protect from diseases like COVID-19 are shams without a proven cure. Don’t just believe testimonials on a company’s website. There is no current cure for COVID-19.
- Be wary of offers sounding too good to be true. They won’t help you get ahead. Scammers look for individuals looking to “catch up” or “get ahead” financially, and if your retirement funds have been affected by the stock market’s ups and downs, don’t panic. Periods of high emotion are rarely the right time to re-evaluate your financial future. Instead, contact a trustworthy broker or financial advisor.
- Be smart and aware. Knowing about the scams out there significantly reduces the likelihood of financial loss. When someone contacts you about an “amazing opportunity,” it’s easier to separate fact from fiction.
Commissioner Brown concludes, “Help protect your friends and family by passing on what you’ve learned. Be aware and report any scams to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection, 1-800-393-5658.”