Coronavirus Scams Targeting the Elderly: How to Avoid Them

August 30, 2020 | BY PHS Staff

The last several months have been a scary and unpredictable time for all of us, but it’s especially been frightening for isolated seniors. Sadly, scammers and thieves are taking advantage of the public confusion and fear surrounding COVID-19, attempting to sell fake goods and services, load malware onto phones and computers, and more.

As always is the case with such scams, vulnerable seniors are the main target for these fraudsters. You can protect older adults by becoming aware of the fake products and services claiming to treat or cure coronavirus or provide financial help, says Daily Caring. Let all caregivers who are in contact with your loved one know that scams are on the rise during this time, and to be extra diligent in keeping them at bay.

In-home care in Gettysburg can help as well, as our caregivers are trained to identify and quickly shut down such scams targeting the seniors in our charge. These scams can happen with any medium, from telephone and text to email and social media — even in person. Senior home care in Gettysburg is the starting point. The effort continues with family members.

Popular COVID-19 Scams

  • Get free iPhones by clicking a link in a text message, which loads malware that can spy on you
  • Counterfeit face masks and hand sanitizer
  • Fraudulent home test kits for coronavirus
  • Undelivered goods from fake sellers promising a sold-out product like face masks, taking your money, and failing to deliver
  • Fake work-from-home schemes
  • Emails, texts, apps, or websites that claim to track the spread of the virus. Instead, they download ransomware onto your device, blocking your access and holding your phone or computer for ransom
  • Fake supplements, toothpastes, lotions, and teas that claim to cure or treat COVID-19. There are many companies touting special teas, essential oils and lozenges that can “cure” the virus. They are not legitimate.
  • Faith-based miracle cures
  • CBD-based cures and treatments
  • Robocalls that pitch a variety of scams
  • Fake payday loans
  • Fake charity organizations

Tips to Prevent Getting Roped In

Being aware of what’s out there is the first step toward protecting yourself and your senior. Check out these tips:

  • Stay away from online offers for coronavirus-related vaccines or cures, suggests AARP. Currently, there are NO approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products that are able to prevent or cure coronavirus. Report suspected scams to the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721.
  • Ignore mail, calls and social media posts advertising government-ordered or “free” COVID-19 tests. If you’re curious, check out the FDA website for a list of approved tests and companies.
  • Never click on links or download files coming from unexpected emails, even if it looks like someone you know.
  • Do not share personal information such as Medicare, Social Security and credit card numbers when responding to unsolicited calls, texts or emails.
  • Be leery of fundraising calls or emails for virus research or COVID-19 victims, particularly if they are pressuring you to act fast and want payment via gift cards and prepaid debit cards.
  • Don’t heed phone calls or emails from people urging you to invest in the latest hot coronavirus stock.
  • Don’t give money to charities you do not know, advises the National Council on Aging.

Scammers have always been around, but they seem to come out of the woodwork whenever a local or national crisis occurs. They will try to draw on a senior’s goodwill seeking “donations” for a worthy cause. Seniors by nature are very trusting people. They tend to see the best in others and will easily fall for a fake story, especially if it plays on their emotions. Be the filter for them. Do the research. Make sure they don’t fall for COVID-19 scams.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Part of our job here at Preferred HealthStaff is to ensure the seniors in our charge don’t get taken advantage of. To learn more about our senior care services, please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.