Fraud surrounding COVID-19 is Increasing

Updated: Apr 6

Submitted to Branson Globe

The Missouri SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) is warning older adults about the potential for fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National SMP Resource Center issued a fraud alert, and the Missouri SMP is asking people to call its hotline at l-888-515-6565 to report any suspected fraud.

This national SMP fraud alert contains information that all seniors need to know:

As the number of people and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic grows, so do the scams associated with it. Scammers use public health emergencies as opportunities for new fraud schemes, and because older adults are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19, they may target older populations.

There is no FDA-approved vaccine for COVID-19 and although there may be treatments for symptoms, there is no "cure." However, scammers often use fear-based tactics to convince people that a vaccine or cure is now being offered.

It's also important to remember that although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health officials may contact you if they believe you may have been exposed to the virus, they will not need to ask you for insurance or financial information.

The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) recommends that Medicare beneficiaries:

• Contact your doctor if you are experiencing potential symptoms of COVID-19.

• Do not give out your Medicare number, Social Security number or personal information in response to unsolicited calls, texts, emails, home visits or booths at health fairs and other public venues. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes as well.

• Be suspicious of anyone going door-to-door to offer free coronavirus or COVID-19 testing, supplies or treatments.

• Carefully review your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB), looking for errors or claims for products or services that weren't received.

• Follow the instructions of your state or local government for other actions you should be taking in response to COVID-19.

• Contact your local SMP for help. In Missouri, call 1-888-515-6565. SMPs empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to prevent, detect and report health care fraud, errors and abuse. In Missouri, visit www.health.mov.gov site or cdc.gov site for information.

The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) is ready to provide you with the information you need to PROTECT yourself from Medicare fraud, errors and abuse; DETECT potential fraud, errors, and abuse; and REPORT your concerns. SMPs help educate and empower Medicare beneficiaries in the fight against health care fraud. Your SMP can help you with your questions, concerns, or complaints about potential fraud and abuse issues.

The National SMP Resource Center issued a COVID-19 fraud alert and the Missouri SMP is asking people to call its hotline at l-888-515-6565 to report any suspected fraud.

(Special to Branson Globe)

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