By Kay Kaylor
I advocate for residents in skilled nursing and assisted living residences as the regional long-term care ombudsman. I also am trained as a Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor, all as an employee of San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA). The many aging and care concerns will be addressed here.
Now that the COVID-19 vaccination program is well under way, new types of scams continue to emerge. See earlier columns for other pandemic and Medicare scams.
The tactics of trying to get a person to click on a dangerous electronic link, pay for a “free trial,” receive a “free” gift after paying a shipping or handling fee, and giving out your credit or debit card or bank information remain the same. Scammers may try to trick you to trust them if they have some of your personal information, which can be found on the Internet if you registered to vote or if they pay a small fee for directory information.
One scam involves fake emails or texts from a vaccine producer, such as Pfizer, asking people to fill out a follow-up survey. None of the vaccine companies are sending out such surveys, but fraudsters can copy company logos and create emails or texts that look legitimate. The survey is tied to offers of a free gift or trial to get personal information.
Another illegal scam targets people who do not have vaccination cards. For example, an eBay seller offered “Authentic CDC Vaccination Record Cards” for about $10. Buyers received a blank card and no cover pouch. No doubt such promotions will continue since vaccination cards may be required at schools, colleges, workplaces and while traveling. The use of such fake cards also poses risks to others if the carrier did not receive a vaccination and has the virus.
COVID-19 scams can be reported to the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or via its Web complaint form. For any scams, you can call Stop Fraud Colorado at (800) 222-4444. If you think your identity has been stolen or compromised, report it to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, (855) 443-3489 and the Federal Trade Commission at identitytheft.gov. If you gave your Social Security number to a scammer or think someone else is using it, the Social Security Fraud Hotline is (800) 269-0271.
SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare; see sjbaaa.org. For further information and assistance, call (970) 264-0501 and listen to the recording to select an extension.