Agency on Aging warns senior citizens of COVID-19-related phone, internet scams

With fears of COVID-19 on the rise, there has also been an increase in medical-related scams targeting senior citizens, who are among the people most vulnerable to infection.

Tara Henderson, medicare education coordinator for the Aroostook Agency on Aging, has received much information about scams that have attempted to obtain personal information from seniors. 

Among the most frequent scams are online advertisements that tout fake treatments for COVID-19 and phone calls asking seniors to verify their Medicare information to qualify for tests or vaccines.

Though Henderson has not received calls from senior citizens in Aroostook County saying that they’ve been targeted, she wants them to know how to identify scammers and avoid giving personal information over the phone or online.

“Any advertisements on social media that offer testing for COVID-19 are a scam,” Henderson said on Thursday. “Only a doctor can approve patients for testing and accept Medicare information.”

Recent phone scammers have been asking senior citizens to verify their Medicare or social security number in order to receive benefits related to COVID-19. Others have come directly to seniors’ doorsteps to offer free supplies, tests or treatments. 

Henderson advises senior citizens to not give away personal information during any such call or visit, and to not click on online links that appear suspicious. Seniors should give medical information only to people that they trust, including their health care providers and medical insurance company.

“The Medicare and Social Security offices never cold call people,” Henderson said. 

If senior citizens in Aroostook County believe that a scammer is trying to target them, they can call the Aroostook Agency on Aging office at 207-764-3396 or toll free number, 1-800-439-1789. 

“Scammers are preying on peoples’ panic right now. Education is our best defense,” Henderson said.

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