Lucas County Health Center (LCHC) would like to warn residents about several scams related to coronavirus (COVID-19) that are rapidly increasing as the public health emergency continues.
Scammers are targeting older adults and those with serious long-term health conditions who appear to have a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. They are also attempting to bill Medicare for fake or sham tests and “treatments” related to COVID-19 and are targeting individuals to illegally obtain money or Medicare numbers.
Current scams that we are aware of include:
Social Security Benefits Suspension Scam
The Social Security Office of the Inspector General has received reports that Social Security beneficiaries have received letters through the U.S. Mail stating their payments will be suspended or discontinued unless they call a phone number referenced in the letter. Scammers then mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of COVID-19 office closures. Social Security will not suspend or decrease benefit payments or Supplemental Security Income payments due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Any communication people receive that says SSA will reduce payments or benefits is a scam, whether you receive it by letter, text, email or phone call. Social Security will never:
- Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee
- Promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment
- Require payment by retail gift card, cash wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card
- Demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem
- Send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via mail
Total Care Meal Scam
Some Iowa Total Care members have reported receiving a text message asking them to click on a link to sign up for meals – this is a scam. The text says “Iowa Total Care is going to be providing two meals per household member who is insured by Iowa Total Care.” Clients should ignore this text – there are no free meals.
CMS Providing Test Kits
Several Medicare beneficiaries have received calls from a person stating they are with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS.) The calls report that because of the person’s history with medication they are eligible for Coronavirus testing. The call also offers to come to their home to drop off the test kit – this is a scam. CMS is not calling people to offer to come to their house to provide a test kit.
Questions and concerns may be directed to LCHC’s Marketing Manager at (641) 774-3219.