Area Agency on Aging: Government alerts consumers about fraudulent cards

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By Kay Kaylor
PREVIEW Columnist

I advocate for residents in extended care and assisted living residences as the region’s lead long-term care ombudsman. I also am a Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor, all as an employee of San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA). Information on the many aging and care concerns will be included here.

The reported COVID-19 positive cases have increased among visitors and residents in Archuleta County and throughout the United States, so local and state officials, such as Gov. Jared Polis, are issuing face mask mandates for indoor public spaces. Amid the news stories comes a government warning from SMP News that repeats prior alerts. 

According to the July 15 SMP News and the Department of Justice (DOJ), laminated cards promoted by a group on Facebook and other social media use a misappropriated DOJ seal and give incorrect information regarding the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband said that the cards and other documents bearing the seal and claiming that individuals are exempt from face mask requirements are fraudulent.

A CNN article by Paul P. Murphy, updated June 30, states that the fake “Face Mask Exempt Card” appears to come from a government agency, “Freedom to Breathe Agency,” and among multiple versions are specific card designs for Colorado and California. Another group “falsehood” is that masks limit a person’s oxygen levels.

“Scientific research continues to show that mask wearing is saving lives by helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 by infected and asymptomatic people. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged people to wear them since early April,” CNN reported.

Previously, the ADA issued an alert about the flyers and postings. For more information and technical assistance about the ADA, please contact the ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 (voice) and (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call or text 403-2165 or send an email to leadombudsman@sjbaaa.org.