Avoiding Coronavirus Scams
Keep your personal and financial information safe. Beware of live calls, robocalls, emails, or text messages from scam artists promising coronavirus vaccines, test kits, or fast stimulus payment in exchange for money or personal information.
As of April 23, 2020, there is currently no vaccine to treat the coronavirus (COVID-19). Developing a vaccine for a virus takes time, and you'll hear about it first from a legitimate source, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Be wary of any company offering products that claim to cure or treat the coronavirus. At the time of publishing this article, teas, essential oils, and intravenous vitamin C therapies are examples of scams promoted as antiviral treatments during the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent more than 40 warnings to companies selling unapproved products that claim to cure or prevent the coronavirus.
Be on the lookout for communications that claim to offer in-demand supplies such as surgical masks, testing kits, or household cleaners. There have been reports of robocalls targeting Medicare beneficiaries claiming to have free at-home coronavirus tests available for Medicare members. If you believe you need to be tested for the coronavirus, call your primary care physician (PCP) for details and instructions. You can also use Buoy, a free web-based tool to check your symptoms and determine if you should be tested for the coronavirus. Buoy is officially partnered with the State of Massachusetts.
If you need a face mask, this video shows you how to make a simple face covering with material you already have at home.
Many Americans are set to receive a stimulus check under the federal CARES Act. The Internal Revenue Service is warning of schemes promising to speed up your payment. Watch out for any communications that claim to be from a government agency and ask you to sign over a check or provide personal information such as a Social Security number. There have also been reports of stock scams that offer you the opportunity to buy stock from companies that claim to have products that can prevent, detect, or cure the coronavirus.
Your best defense against scams
Your best defense against scams is to be wary of offers from companies you aren’t familiar with, especially if you are asked to provide personal information or payment. Any important information regarding the coronavirus will come from a reputable source. In addition:
- Keep your identity safe - Be wary of anyone who calls to ask for your Social Security number, banking account number, or Medicare or health plan number. Medicare will not call to ask for banking or Social Security information.
- Protect personal information online - Medicare members may be encouraged to provide personal information over the internet in exchange for “free” medical equipment, supplies, or medication. Many of these links are designed to steal personal information.
Use our Fraud Hotline to report concerns
If you have any concerns or complaints about possible fraud, you can call the Tufts Health Plan Fraud Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-617-923-5498, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Fraud Hotline helps to answer questions, concerns, or complaints about possible health care fraud. (If you wish to report anonymously, please call the Tufts Health Plan Compliance and Fraud Hotline at 1-877-824-7123.)
For more information
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) set up a dedicated website with information on COVID-19 phone scams.
Our coronavirus information page provides updated information on plan changes related to the coronavirus pandemic.