Coronavirus: Champaign County Sheriff’s Office warns residents against COVID-19 scams

A dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is drawn up Wednesday at the Champaign County Government Center. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Champaign Health District employee loads a COVID-19 dose into a needle on January 14. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents that scammers are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams.

According to a post on the sheriff’s office Facebook page, scammers have offered COVID-19 tests, vaccines, grants and Medicare prescription cards “in exchange for personal details include Medicare information.”

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“These services are illegitimate. The personal information collected can be used to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft,” the post said. “If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately.”

The sheriff’s office suggests the following tips to protect yourself against the scams:

  • Be cautious of COVID-19 survey scams. Do not give personal, medical or financial information to anyone claiming to offer money or gifts in exchange for participation in a COVID-19 vaccine survey.
  • Offers to purchase COVID-19 vaccination cards are scams. Valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination can only be provided to individuals by legitimate providers administering vaccines.
  • Photos of COVID-19 vaccination cards should not be shared on social media. Posting content that includes your date of birth, health care details or other personally identifiable information can be used to steal your identity.
  • Be vigilant and protect yourself from potential fraud concerning COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies.
  • Do not respond to or open hyperlinks in text messages about COVID-19 from unknown individuals. Do not click on links or download files from unexpected emails, even if the email address looks like a company or person you recognize.
  • Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone claiming to offer grants related to COVID-19.
  • Be aware of scammers pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number, financial information or attempt to set up a COVID-19 test for you and collect payment information for the test.
  • Avoid online offers for coronavirus cures or faster access to vaccines.
  • Be wary of emails, calls and social media posts advertising “free” or government-ordered COVID-19 tests. Check the FDA website for a list of approved tests and testing companies.

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