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  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: covid-19, , ,   

    Was a death certificate stolen for a FEMA scam? 

    Was a death certificate stolen for a FEMA scam?

    By Greg Collier

    Back in February, we discussed how scammers stopped a federal assistance program from being rolled out. As of the time of our previous post, FEMA had not started their funeral assistance program for people who passed away from COVID-19 in 2020. Due to the amount of fraud that was affecting state unemployment systems during the pandemic, FEMA decided to hold back while they came up with a potential solution. Earlier this month, FEMA announced that they would begin processing applications for funeral assistance, and it looks like the scammers may have already started to try to take advantage of the system.

    A woman in Tennessee lost her husband late last year to COVID-19. He was working the frontline as a nurse when he contracted the virus. Even though it’s been a number of months, his widow is still dealing with the loss of her husband. She recently received a call asking if she had sent her husband’s death certificate to Texas. She had not and believes that someone was using her husband’s death certificate to try to apply for FEMA benefits in his name. When this potential scam was first announced we wondered if all it would take to scam FEMA would be a forged or stolen death certificate.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that you can do to protect yourself from this scam. If you ever had the unfortunate experience of arranging a funeral for a loved one and handling their estate, you know that you have to provide a copy of the deceased’s death certificate to a number of different people. The only thing that FEMA seems to be recommending at this point is that if you’ve been scammed you can call FEMA at 800-621-3362.

    Sadly, this again shows that scammers will try to take advantage of any situation no matter how devastating it may be to the victim. When scammers reach a new low like this, we’re both surprised and yet not surprised. Scammers know no bounds of human decency and will try to take advantage of anyone as long as it can make them some money.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 29, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , , survey scam   

    Vaccine survey could be a scam! 

    Vaccine survey could be a scam!

    By Greg Collier

    People all over the country have been reporting that they’ve been receiving emails and text messages asking them to fill out a survey about the COVID-19 vaccine. The messages even appear to look like they’ve been sent by one of the major manufacturers of the vaccine. So far, close to 50 million people in America have been fully vaccinated. This gives scammers a pretty large target. The messages are almost certainly sent out at random, but the odds are pretty good they’ll reach someone who has been vaccinated.

    The majority of these survey scams promise the recipient a free gift if they fill out the survey. Of course, the free gift comes with a catch. While the gift may be free, the survey takers are asked for their credit or debit card information to pay for shipping. The gift doesn’t actually exist, and the scammers are just out to get as many card number as they can. Officials have also warned people to not click on any links contained in the messages as they could potentially lead to your device being infected with malware.

    The surveys themselves are even said to be asking for sensitive information that could be used for identity theft. It seems like the survey scammers don’t want to leave any digital stone unturned when it comes to gathering as much data about you as possible. If you receive one of these messages, it’s recommended that you delete it immediately and not click on any of the links they contain. If you’ve already lost money to this scam, you’re asked to report it to the FTC.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 25, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , , , , , vaccination card,   

    Fake vaccine cards are showing up online 

    Fake vaccine cards are showing up online

    By Greg Collier

    Previously, the Better Business Bureau warned people who received the COVID-19 vaccine not to post pictures of their vaccine cards on social media. The thought behind this was not only could these pictures potentially lead to identity theft, but scammers could make phony vaccine cards. Now it seems that one of those chickens has come home to roost.

    The Better Business Bureau of Illinois is reporting that blank vaccine card knockoffs have started appearing for sale online. Reports state that the phony cards have shown up on eBay, OfferUp, and of course Craigslist. The cards are being sold for as much as $200.

    The danger behind these cards are the fact there are people who actively avoiding getting the vaccine. Vaccine cards may start being required for things like air travel or public gatherings. If unvaccinated people are start using these cards to get around restrictions, we could potentially start seeing another wave of infections. Considering the number of people who won’t even wear a mask to the supermarket, these cards could constitute a serious health hazard to the population. Not only that, but the cards could allow unvaccinated people who are potentially carrying the disease to return to public places like job sites or schools to spread new strains of the virus to unsuspecting victims.

    If you’re thinking about buying one of these cards you may want to rethink your plan. Using falsified government documents is a crime. Keep in mind that the authentic cards are furnished by the CDC, a branch of the American government. If someone were to use one of these cards to get on a plane, and they get caught, they could be facing a pretty big fine or even jail time.

    Instead, why not just get the vaccine when it becomes available for you in your state. The shot is a lot cheaper than buying one of these phony cards, and it won’t land you in jail.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: covid-19, , , ,   

    Scams can bring federal programs to their knees 

    Scams can bring federal programs to their knees

    By Greg Collier

    Prior to the start of the pandemic, many of us looked at scammers as minor annoyances. “They might fool a few people, but they’d never be able to fool me.” many of us said. Then when the pandemic happened in full force, scammers were everywhere. Not only did every old scam have a new COVID-19 twist to it, but the scammers were now attacking federal and state governments to the tune of billions of dollars. You may not be fooled by a scammer, but as the unemployment scam showed us, you may not have a choice. Now, a federal relief program has yet to roll out due to the scams that may surround it.

    FEMA has a fund to help pay for funerals for people who were lost in certain disasters. This includes deaths related to COVID-19 for 2020. However, here we are near March 2021 and FEMA has yet to issue any assistant payments for these funeral expenses. With half a million people having passed from COVID-19, FEMA realizes that this could open them to the same amount of fraud that has affected the unemployment system. FEMA is working with the CDC to try to find a way to make sure that these assistant payments get to the people who actually need them.

    All it could take is a forged death certificate for scammers to start trying to collect money from FEMA. And with states reporting deaths in different ways, this could lead to a lot of confusion. The other aspect this scam shares with the unemployment scam is that FEMA will be dealing with a record amount of funeral reimbursement requests since the country has never dealt with this many deaths before due to one single disaster.

    If you’ve ever had to suddenly plan for a loved one’s funeral, you’ll know how expensive funerals can be. Thanks to scammers, more people will be out of more money until more safeguards are put in place to prevent such widespread fraud.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , , ,   

    Don’t let strangers take Grandma to her vaccination 

    Don't let strangers take Grandma to her vaccination

    In most states, seniors age 75 or older are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. One of the problems these seniors face is that they may not have reliable transportation to get to one of their state’s vaccination centers. In order to combat this problem, the state of Massachusetts has adopted a program where those who transport the senior citizen to the vaccination center can also receive the vaccine.

    The program was intended to give caregivers such as a spouse or adult child to take their loved one to get the vaccine. However, like most things that have good intentions at heart, there are those who look to take advantage of the program. Almost as soon as the program was announced, there were those who took to Craigslist offering money to seniors who would let them accompany them to the vaccination center. At least one person has offered over $1000 to allow them to accompany a senior to their vaccination.

    While it’s natural for people to be desperate to receive the vaccine, some of these offers could potentially be from scammers. Since seniors tend to be the largest target for scammers, this program has opened a golden opportunity for con artists. These scams could range from identity theft to a Medicare scam and anything in between. That’s not even taking the senior’s safety into account. Craigslist has been known to have a less than stellar reputation when it comes to user safety.

    When most of us were children, we always heard the warning of not getting into cars with strangers. If this is what we tell our children, then it should apply to our older family members as well. Do you really want a parent or grandparent getting into a vehicle with a stranger so they can get their vaccine?

  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, ,   

    Don’t share your COVID-19 vaccination card 

    If you’re one of the 32 million people who have started their COVID-19 vaccine treatment, you may want to share the good news with others. While it’s great that you want to encourage others to get the vaccine, you may want to be careful how you share the news.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning vaccine recipients about posting pictures of their vaccination cards to social media. Again, it’s great that you’re being proactive about the pandemic, however, the cars contain enough information that could lead to identity theft if posted publicly. The card contain your full name and date of birth which may not sound like much but is enough information for identity thieves to start looking into your personal information.

    There’s another much more sinister reason why you should post your vaccination card online. There are people who are actively avoiding getting the vaccine. This puts the health of the nation at serious risk if enough people refuse the vaccine. Instead of life getting back to normal, COVID-19 will become a constant in our society. Since scammers are always looking to take advantage of a situation no matter the cost to everyone else, there is a market for phony vaccination cards that can be copied from yours. This would allow the unvaccinated who are potentially carrying the disease to return to public places like job sites or schools to spread new strains of the virus to unsuspecting victims.

    You’ve already taken the first step toward helping your community get healthier. So, we hope you don’t take a step back by allowing your medical information to be made public.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , ,   

    Scams around the vaccine start to emerge 

    Scams around the vaccine start to emerge

    Previously, when the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine was announced, we discussed potential scams that could emerge during the rollout. Some of these scams are no longer theoretical as scammers have begun to try to find new victims.

    While each state has their own distribution schedule, one thing remains constant across the country. The COVID-19 vaccine will be afforded to most people at no cost outside a small administration fee charged by some providers. Historically, these administration fees have been largely negligible. This fact hasn’t stopped scammers from using a promise of the vaccine from stealing your money or information.

    In Missouri, scammers are posing as contact tracers and called at least one victim to tell them that the victim had been exposed at a local business. The scammer than read off the victim’d credit card number to them and asked for the three-digit security code. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your financial information.

    Upstate New York is said to be experiencing a similar scam. Scammers are not only posing as contact tracers, they are also asking for information such as your driver’s license number along with other identifying information. According to officials, contact tracers will only ask for your name, address, date of birth and phone number. They will never ask for your Social Security number.

    In Florida, one particular scam is disturbing. At least one scammer has been driving around in a van claiming to be from the county health department. He’s been going to people’s houses and asking residents for copies of their insurance cards in preparation for receiving the vaccine. Again, the vaccine is free and health insurance is not required to receive it.

    If you have concerns about when you’ll be able to receive the vaccine you can usually check with your state or county’s health department website.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , ,   

    More COVID vaccine scams are on their way 

    More COVID vaccine scams are on their way

    We’ve already posted about scams that are expected to follow the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Even more scams are now expected if they haven’t started already.

    These scams will be relatively easy to avoid if you keep one piece of information in mind. As of this posting, the vaccine can not be purchased, online or otherwise. According to the website of the Centers for Disease Control, vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. In essence, the vaccine is free outside of a small provider fee.

    However, that won’t be stopping the scammers from trying to use the fear of the virus to get you to buy vaccines they don’t really have. According to reports, scammers will be sending out phishing emails stressing how urgent it is that you should get the vaccine. These emails could look like they’re coming from legitimate organizations like the CDC, Medicare, or even your own medical provider’s office.

    As with most phishing emails, the scammers are trying to get you to click on a link contained in the email. The link will likely do one of two things. It will either take you to a fake but legitimate-looking website that asks you for personal or payment information. Or it will inject some type of malware onto your device. If you give out your information, that could lead to identity theft and fraudulent purchases. If you allow malware onto your device, that could lead to your device being scanned for your information or it could be remotely held hostage with some ransomware.

    We know it sounds cliche, but literally, we are all in this together. We will all have the opportunity to be vaccinated against this destructive disease that has taken so many lives. If we’re all patient and work together, we could beat this virus before we know it.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , covid-19, , ,   

    Scams will follow the vaccine rollout 

    Scams will follow the vaccine rollout

    Yesterday, vaccines for COVID-19 started rolling out across the country. Due to the initial limited supply, not everyone will be able to get one right away. The first round of vaccines are said to be going to frontline and essential workers. As you might expect, scammers are said to be already using the news of the vaccine in their latest scams.

    Scammers have been using the current pandemic to take advantage of consumers since almost day one. Previously, scammers have touted fake cures, used fake testing to gain medical information, and promised phony contact tracing jobs, just to name a few. So, it should come as no surprise that scammers are jumping on the news of a coronavirus vaccine.

    The latest scams seem to be taking one of two forms. The first one is that the scammers are calling victims and claiming to have the vaccine already. Unless they’re a medical facility or health department, they don’t have the vaccine. These scammers might be spoofing the numbers of local facilities. They’re probably looking to either take your money or steal your personal information if history is any indicator.

    The second form of the scam is scammers are promising their victims they can get them the vaccine earlier than they’re supposed to. Much like what happened with a similar scam involving the economic impact payments, no one can get you the vaccine early. Once again, this is probably another tactic of trying to get your money or information.

    When it comes to the vaccine, you should only listen to your physician or your local health department. No stranger that calls you out of the blue has your best interest in mind, They’re only looking to take from you in these confusing times.

    We’ll all be able to eventually get the vaccine as long as we remain patient and continue to practice current safety guidelines.

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: clinical trial, , covid-19, ,   

    COVID drug trial scam emerges 

    COVID drug trial scam emerges

    With the news of a potential COVID-19 vaccine being possibly on the horizon, scammers have wasted no time in using this news to their advantage. The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about a new COVID-related scam that could show up on your phone.

    According to the BBB, scammers are sending text messages claiming to offer money in exchange for being part of a COVID-19 clinical trial. To be more specific, the text messages are saying that you could make $1200 as a volunteer in a COVID study. The text message then requests that you click on an included link to see if you qualify.

    The main goal of the scam is to get you to click on the link included in the text message. A few things could happen if you do click on the link. You could end up with some type of malware infecting your device. This malware could be used to hijack your device in order to read your contacts list so the scammers can find more targets. Malware could also be used to find your personal and financial information that’s kept on your device. The link could also take you to a phony website that requests your personal and financial information to see if you ‘qualify’ for the phony trial. In any case, it could mean identity theft or worse.

    Now, there are legitimate clinical trials that you can sign up for and possibly get paid if you qualify. Some of these trials even advertise to find potential applicants. However, what they do not do is send out unsolicited text messages to random people, Usually, these trials are looking for a specific type of person. In many cases, the trials are looking for people who may suffer from a certain illness or condition that’s specific to their trial. They won’t ask for your financial information either. Like many scams, the scammers may try to get you to make a payment first to get into their phony trial.

    If you receive one of these text messages, your best course of action is to delete the text and block the number. Even if you text them to stop, the scammers will then know that they found a working number and may target you for future scams.

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