13 Oct COVID vs. Your Identity and Your Health
Through the past few months, we have been bombarded with information on Coronavirus. We have watched the mockery of politicians and key public figures pointing the fingers and placing blame as the country shuts down. We are constantly drilled to wash our hands, cover our face, and practice social distancing while given the daily tolls of those who are infected and those who have died from the virus. Hospitals have become strained, overcrowded, and understaffed. As we are watching this twisted circus act in fear and unable to look away, criminals have taken on the role as the illusionist, performing sleight of hand tricks with our personal information. According to a national press release from the FBI, healthcare fraud has reached an all-time high. With all this gloom and doom, we are here to educate on these newest fraud tactics and what you can do to protect yourself from falling victim.
Since the first case of COVID-19, made its appearance on the United States, healthcare officials have worked tireless quickly and tirelessly to create a strategy for people to safely see their doctor. The implementation of telehealth has been portrayed as the gold standard for safe and accessible healthcare from the safety of the patient’s home. Through telemedicine, doctors can connect with patients and provide an exam using a webcam.
Sounds perfect, when you are already feeling under the weather or need an antibiotic for your child’s pink eye. The downside is to telehealth is that is opens patients up to having their personal information unknowingly exposed because doctors are using third-party programs, such as MDLive and Teladoc to continue to provide care. Personal information that your doctor’s office would already have, must be put into the patient’s login profile including social security number, insurance information, and credit card information which is all stored within the web browser and/or app. According to the FBI’s website, here have been reports of telehealth companies enticing healthcare worker and patients to give patient ID numbers in exchange for unnecessary services or bogus products, which can then be used to bill the government for said products and services. For example, one unnamed company used telemarketers to contact patients and offer to waive their copayments and deductible in exchange for signing up for their service. The company then used the patient’s persona information to bill Medicare for visits, tests and procedures that did not actually occur.
Telehealth is not the only area, where greed is the order of the day. Scammers and skimmers are, also, using your fear as a means to gain access your personal information and your wallet. Since testing began, fly by night companies have popped up with a team of fellow scammers, calling and email with promises of at home Coronavirus testing and even fake vaccinations. The scammer calls and says they are with your local health department and you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID. They then proceed to tell you that for security purposes, they need you to verify your name, address, social security number and date of birth and that for a fee, they will send you an at home Coronavirus testing kit. It sounds ridiculous, right? Sadly, thousands of people have fallen victim to this scam according to Federal Trade Commission and the FBI. Although the federal government has been able to regain approximately $2.2 million, there are millions more that have not been recover leaving people feeling
hopeless and stranded.
All of this seems like some pretty scary stuff, but we are Core ID Services are here to help you navigate through these scary waters with some tips to help you.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
In the world of telehealth and healthcare in general, if you are offered to have your copays or deductibles waived, make sure you read all of the fine print. Some reputable telehealth companies are offering this as an option for those who are financially strapped, but you have to meet your states eligibility requirements and make sure you request and itemized bill from your doctor and the insurance claim. They should match and inquire about anything that you’re not sure of. If you’re not sure, don’t do it, be sure to check with your states Department of Health and Human Services.
- Government agencies will NOT call or email you.
If anyone calls you claiming they are from any government agency, hang up immediately. Government agencies will send you an official letter through the snail mail. They will contain a bar code at the top right corner and other identifiable information that will help you to identify it as a government document. If they have a questions or concern, they will notify you in writing, that will be delivered to you by a physical person in a physical envelope on official letterhead.
- If think you have been scammed or that your personal information has been compromised, report it immediately.
You will need to file a police report. You will need to provide them with as much details as possible. Then you will need to contact Core ID Services so that we can assist you with the recovery.
- Be vigilant.
If you are unsure if what you are being asked or offered is accurate, hang up or delete the email. Do your research and verify. If the company or request is legitimate, you can always respond later. Remember the government is not going to call or email you. They are also not going to ask you for your personal information either should you call them. They will ask for identifiable information on the documents they sent to you. Just like you would not let a stranger into your home without first asking questions, you should never take the person on the other end for face value.