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Be Alert for Covid Stimulus and Vaccine Scams

Calls and/or emails could be attempts to steal your money and information

Good news is on the way in the form of COVID relief checks and vaccines. But consumers should not let their guard down, Attorney General Tom Miller warns. 

“Scammers follow the headlines, and they’ll take advantage of our excitement, confusion, and other emotions,” Miller said.   

Some Americans should receive a second round of stimulus money in early January after Congress passed a new coronavirus relief package. The legislation also includes unemployment benefits, eviction ban, rental assistance and other help. As the Attorney General’s Office saw last year, some of the details can cause confusion and lead to fraud and other problems. 

Stimulus money 

The Federal Trade Commission reminds Americans to keep in mind the following:   

No government agency will ask you to pay anything up front to get your stimulus check. “Anyone who does is a scammer,” the FTC says. 

The government also won’t call, text, email, or contact you on social media to ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number.   

You cannot get your money earlier or faster through third parties. “Anyone who says they can hook you up now (or soon) is both lying and a scammer,” the FTC says. 

All Medicaid recipients must notify the Iowa Department of Human Services when they receive a stimulus payment. Be aware that a nursing home cannot take claim stimulus money. If you have problems, call the long-term care ombudsman. 

Vaccines 

Several scams have already been reported involving COVID vaccines. In December, Aging Resources of Central Iowa reported that a scammer was contacting Iowans offering “to sell a ticket of some kind to you or an older adult guaranteeing a place on a waiting list for the COVID-19 vaccine.”     

The FBI warns about similar scams, as well as other “potential indicators of fraudulent activity”:  

offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine;  

marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee; 

unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine recipients’ eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine; 

claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified 

advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources; 

individuals contacting you in person, by phone, or by email to tell you the government or government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

If you receive a call or a message asking for information or verifying your information we advise you to either hang up or take their name and number and contact family or a friend to verify or to call Connections Area Agency on Aging to confirm.

© 2021 Connections Area Agency on Aging

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