Beware of Scams

As the country begins to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, there's no doubt scammers are already scheming. Medicare covers the COVID-19 vaccine, so there will be no cost to you. If anyone asks you to share your Medicare Number or pay for access to the vaccine, you can bet it's a scam. Here's what to know:

  • You can't pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
  • You can't pay to get early access to a vaccine.
  • Don't share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee.

If you come across a COVID-19 vaccine scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission or call 1-800-MEDICARE. Make sure you follow reliable sources of information like the CDC for up-to-date information on the COVID-19 vaccine. For more information visit: https://lnkd.in/d7N8aAK

Attorney General Kwame Raoul urges Illinois residents to be on alert for possible email and social media scams tied to the COVID-19 outbreak. Individuals should be cautious of any advice or claims being made that certain products can “cure” COVID-19 or prevent the contraction of COVID-19. Products such as chlorine dioxide, hydroxychloroquine, essential oils, silver, elderberry and garlic are being advertised as “cures” for COVID-19. Do not purchase any product promoted online on social media or via email that is being touted as a cure to COVID-19. 

If you get a call purporting to be from Social Security and claiming there's a problem with your Social Security account, HANG UP. If there is a problem with a person’s Social Security number or record, in most cases Social Security will mail a letter. Social Security employees will never tell you that your SSN has been suspended, contact you to demand an immediate payment, ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone, ask for gift cards or cash, or promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information or money. If someone requests any of these things, they are a scammer!

Beware of phone calls and text messages falsely claiming that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is inviting people to collect $1,000 from an aid program that doesn’t yet exist. Beware of websites with ads promising $100 Starbucks gift cards as an apology for closing shops. Additionally, look out for calls offering air duct cleaning services as a way to stop the coronavirus.

Here are some general tips to identify false or misleading claims:

  • Be suspicious of products that claim to treat a wide range of diseases.

  • Personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence.

  • Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, so be suspicious of any therapy claimed as a “quick fix.”

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  • “Miracle cures,” which claim scientific breakthroughs or contain secret ingredients, are likely a hoax.

  • Know that you can’t test yourself for coronavirus disease.

We are in an ideal environment for scammers who exploit fears and needs.
The Department of Justice's Elder Justice Initiative works to support and coordinate DOJ's efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target older adults. They have developed a flyer with COVID-19 resources.

State officials have taken more than 700 complaints accusing retailers of gouging customers for coronavirus-related items such as hand sanitizer and toilet paper. Anybody who believes they’ve been a victim of a scam or has information about suspected fraud can call the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-386-5438 or visit www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov.

We also encourage you to exercise caution when donating to charitable causes connected to the COVID-19 outbreak. To help donors make informed giving decisions, here are some tips:

  • Do not donate if the solicitor uses high-pressure tactics, asks for payment in cash or insists on sending someone to pick up your donation.

  • If you receive an email or text message asking for a donation, confirm that the request is from the charity, and not an imposter, by contacting the charity or visiting its website. 

  • Be cautious of “look-alike” websites. These fraudulent websites will often ask for personal financial information and may download harmful malware onto your computer. 

  • Don’t assume that charity recommendations on Facebook or social media are legitimate and have already been scrutinized. Research the charity yourself.

Report suspicious solicitations to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office of Charitable Trust Bureau at 312-814-2595. 


Source: Illinois Attorney General, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Social Security Administration, Federal Trade Commission, and AARP, March 2020.