PHOENIX — If the Coronavirus pandemic wasn’t bad enough, scammers are now using the situation to get their hands on your personal information — and possibly your money.
In recent months, there have been several scams targeting people, but now officials are warning people to be on the lookout for fraud, especially those who plan to get tested for COVID-19.
Simon reached out to the Let Joe Know Team when he received an email saying his recent COVID-19 test needed to be redone because the results were invalid.
“It felt weird,” said Simon. “One, that they would come in that way, through email, and they wouldn’t call me. Also, to not recognize who it was coming from.”
He explained how he had expected to get results via email, but this one did not mention the facility where he got tested and the URL (web address) did not match. He questioned the process: if the test was no good, why didn’t they call to let him know.
Instead of clicking the links, he decided to call his testing center.
“They said, ‘No, everything was fine. It came back negative. Don’t worry about a thing,’” Simon said.
So, where did this email come from and how did they get his information? Was it just a phishing attempt to get it? It is something people are seeing more and more of during this pandemic?
According to the Federal Trade Commission, since January 1, 2020, Arizona alone has seen nearly 33,000 cases of fraud and identity theft. In those cases, scammers were able to get away with more than $16.5 million.
That is almost 4,000 more cases than the same time last year. On top of that, scammers are getting more creative which leaves agencies to piece together warnings for consumers.
The latest warning was issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Medicare recipients. They believe scammers are promising COVID-19 testing in exchange for sensitive information.
It can be in the form of a phone call, text message, door-to-door visit, and even social media posts. HHS said no matter the case, the services are “unapproved and illegitimate.”
It turns out Simon’s email appears to have come from a legitimate lab that has testing sites across the Valley, just not one he used.
He says with testing options so unclear, falling for a scam could be easier than ever.
“The resources aren’t clearly laid out [for] where to get tested. How to get the results back, that it can be really confusing,” said Simon. “I can’t imagine going through this being 60, 70, 80 or older, and having trouble just finding the available test.”
So, how do you navigate looking for a testing site and getting your results?
Start somewhere you trust like your doctor or health insurance.
A list of testing sites partnered with the state can be found here along with their hours and requirements. The state also has a list, here.
There is also on-going no-cost, no-appointment testing at South Mountain Community College throughout the month of July and into August. Details can be found, here.
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