Warn Your Clients About Coronavirus Scams

Apr 3, 2020 / Amanda Chase, Horsesmouth Assistant Editor

Crisis brings out the best in some people and the worst in others. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Scammers are working overtime preying on people's very real uncertainty and anxiety. Federal agencies are sounding alarms about Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries in particular, since this population is often more vulnerable to fraud. Here are some of the most common scams, and what your clients need to know.

The Inspector General of Social Security is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will not suspend or discontinue benefits because their offices are closed. Scammers may mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of COVID-19 office closures.

Tell your clients to ignore these letters, phone calls, or emails, and instead to call the main SSA number—1 (800) 772-1213.

Remember, Social Security will never:

  • Threaten you with benefit suspension, arrest, or other legal action unless you pay a fine or fee;
  • promise a benefit increase or other assistance in exchange for payment;
  • require payment by retail gift card, cash, wire transfer, internet currency, or prepaid debit card;
  • demand secrecy from you in handling a Social Security-related problem;
  • or
  • send official letters or reports containing personally identifiable information via email.

You can find the full SSA announcement here. Also, Social Security recipients will automatically receive the CARES Ac stimulus check, as noted in Tuesday’s blog post. Ignore anyone who offers to “help” them claim it.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) say, “As always, guard your Medicare card like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and if someone calls asking for your Medicare Number, hang up!” In general, Medicare covers all COVID-related care:

  • Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
  • Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
  • At this time, there’s no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.

Find updates on the Medicare coronavirus page.

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE
This material is provided exclusively for use by individuals with an active license to the Savvy Social Security Planning Program. Use of this material is subject to the Social Security Planning Program Agreement and applicable copyright laws. Unauthorized use, reproduction or distribution of this material is a violation of federal law and punishable by civil and criminal penalty. This material is furnished “as is” without warranty of any kind. Its accuracy and completeness is not guaranteed and all warranties express or implied are hereby excluded.

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