Important Coronavirus/COVID-19 anti-fraud message to consumers.
As part of our mission to improve and protect the healthcare system, particularly under the threat of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is focused on protecting members from fraudsters who seek to take advantage of the fear and confusion many feel surrounding the coronavirus/COVID-19 during these uncertain times. The Blue Cross Blue Shield companies partner with state and federal agencies, as well as advocacy organizations, to report, investigate and reduce the incidence of healthcare fraud.
- Be wary of advertisements for vaccinations or medications to treat the virus which are not recommended by the CDC, your local health department or your physician
- Always be on the lookout for unexplained or unauthorized charges appearing on your Explanation of Benefits statement
- Be aware of phishing and/or spear phishing emails referencing Coronavirus or COVID-19 which may contain malware and/or request your personal information
- Be wary of advertisements offering health products that are ineffective against Coronavirus or COVID-19 i.e. herbal teas, supplements, oils or ointments. If you are uncertain, please seek guidance from your physician
- Do not accept telemarketing or “Robo-Calls” from callers you did not authorize to call you. Nor should you accept unsolicited offers of telemedicine services not authorized by your health plan.
- Beware of door-to-door COVID-19 scams such as individuals knocking on your door offering to do COVID-19 home examinations, which may include swab and vital signs testing, among others.
The recent distribution of FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines is welcome news. However, individuals need to remain vigilant against vaccine-related scams. Our federal partners produced this BULLETIN to alert consumers of potential vaccine-related fraud.
Beware of false unemployment benefit claims
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, enacted by Congress to reduce the pandemic’s financial impact on U.S. citizens and businesses, inadvertently provided scammers an unprecedented opportunity to exploit the record number of unemployment benefits claims. Using stolen Personally Identifiable Information (PII), scammers filed false unemployment benefit claims, defrauding the U.S. government of hundreds of millions of dollars and creating significant burdens for the individuals impacted. The FBI’s Economic Crimes Unit has advised that the hardest hit areas are currently in New England and the Pacific Northwest, and the states of Oklahoma and Ohio.
How to know if you are a victim
- You attempt to file an unemployment claim and one already exists.
- You receive documentation from your state unemployment agency regarding a claim you did not file.
- You receive an IRS Form 1099G for unemployment benefits you did not request.
- Your employer notifies you that benefits were applied for in your name.
What to do if you are a victim
- Contact your state unemployment agency and file a complaint. The procedures to file a complaint vary by state https://www.dol.gov/general/maps/fraud
- File a report with your local police department.
How to further protect yourself
- Get your free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com. Check for any accounts or charges you don’t recognize.
- Consider placing a free credit freeze. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name.
- If you place a freeze, be ready to take a few extra steps the next time you apply for a new credit card or cell phone – or any service that requires a credit check.
- If you decide not to place a credit freeze, at least consider placing a fraud alert.
- Continue to check your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com. You can order a free report from each of the three credit reporting companies once a year.
- Consider changing log-in and passwords for on-line banking, financial, utility, retail and social media accounts.
- Review your credit card accounts regularly. Review transactions to make sure no one misused your card. If you find fraudulent charges, call the fraud department to resolve them.
- Review bank account and other financial accounts regularly. If you find fraudulent transactions, call the fraud department to resolve them.
You can find more information at IdentityTheft.gov
The Blue Cross Blue Shield companies work closely with state and federal agencies, as well as advocacy organizations, to report, investigate and reduce the incidence of healthcare fraud. You are encouraged to visit and report fraud incidents with any of these organizations: