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COVID-19 insurance scams appearing, may spread


Sat, Mar 28th 2020 08:15 am

New York insurers urge consumers to be alert for warning signs


Fake COVID-19 health coverage and other insurance schemes are being added to the scam mix as con artists exploit the pandemic for personal profit at consumer expense, warns the New York Alliance Against Insurance Fraud.

Robocalls, plus text and email phishing attacks can pitch false insurance deals to consumers of all ages. These pitches may ask consumers to pay insurance premiums, without delivering coverage.

COVID-19 insurance cons also can work to steal people's medical and financial identities. Click here for the latest consumer scam updates.

Early alertness is crucial to self-defense. Insurance scams could spread rapidly as scam artists seek new ways to prey on people's anxiety about health preparedness and social isolation, the New York Alliance cautions.

Consumers should watch closely insurance-related scams such as:

•Bogus corona insurance. Scammers are pitching low-cost "coronavirus" or "COVID-19" health coverage. They promise full coverage at affordable prices. Robocalls falsely claim to be legitimate, mainstream insurance companies. People are asked to call a tollfree number; a trained marketer may try to sell coverage. Clicking a link to the so-called insurer may load malware.

•Free vaccines, special virus tests or kits. Con artists are pitching free vaccines and tests, claiming they're insured.

•False insurance cancelation. Callers urgently say a loved one is sick in the hospital with COVID-19. “Your health insurance was cancelled, and you can pay over the phone to reinstate coverage and receive needed treatment.”

•Bogus agents. Watch for cold-callers and spam emails claiming to be from insurance agents. They may pitch false coronavirus or COVID-19 insurance policies. Contact a licensed health-insurance agent near you.

•Senior scams. Seniors are being targeted by COVID-19 robocalls and other scams that ask for their Medicare numbers. Vaccines, tests and other frauds are being pitched. Scammers later can make bogus claims against the senior's Medicare account. Scammers even have approached residents at senior housing and assisted-living facilities for Medicare ruses.

•Act now. Ignore low-cost insurance or other suspicious deals. Reject sales pitches contacting you without your prior consent ... or telling you to press "1" or another key to be removed from a call list.

•Home tests. Ignore pitches for coronavirus or COVID-19 insurance or home testing kits. All are bogus.

Do not pick up the phone if it's from an unknown number. Just hang up if you do answer; do not engage the caller.

Avoid clicking links or downloading files from unfamiliar sources. Watch for typos in the messages.

Report suspicious calls to the Federal Trade Commission.

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