Source: 2019-20 Consumer Sentinel Report
Health and wellness is something that impacts all of us. When buying health products, going to the hospital, or even simply seeking wellness advice, we must trust the source and verify that the information is correct.
We help you put your health first. We review health products, review fitness trends, tell you the truth about diets and supplements, and even warn you about new scams to watch out for that target this industry.
Getting the correct type of healthcare or health insurance can be confusing. Add to this that many people are anxious about their health, and you have a perfect target for scammers. According to the FTC, almost 90,000 reports of scams involving healthcare in 2021 resulted in over $17 million in total loss.
There are many varieties of healthcare scams. The common denominator is that a scammer will use your anxiety about your health against you to trick you into giving them money for fake products or services or getting you to expose personal details so they can steal your identity.
Healthcare is costly. Scammers know this and will use a lot of tricks to convince you to buy insurance or medical products from them. Here are some of the red flags to be on the lookout for. If you notice any of these, you could be dealing with a scammer.
The scammers jump on any news about COVID-19 and use it to create new scams to trick unsuspecting victims out of money. In one type of scam, fake COVID-19 testing kits are sold via the internet or door-to-door. In another, people are being charged for in-person tests when they should be able to get one for free.
Scammers are also selling fake COVID-19 vaccination records requiring you to enter personal information, including your Social Security number, into a phishing website, which the scammer will then use to steal your identity.
In another COVID-19 scam, you get a text message claiming to be from the government. The message will say that you need to validate your vaccination status by following a link. The link will take you to a fake government phishing website where there will be a form to enter personal information. Once you enter your data on the site, the scammer will steal your data.
In one type of fake health insurance scam, the scammers will try to sell you an insurance policy that isn't real either to steal your money or to steal the data they will request from you to start your "policy."
In another type, you will be told you are purchasing insurance, but you are actually buying a medical discount plan that doesn't meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
In this scam, a scammer claiming to be representing a government agency, like Medicare or the Social Security Administration (SSA), will ask you for personal details and information about your healthcare coverage. They will then claim that you need to sign up for the health insurance they are offering, or you will be fined and possibly go to jail. But this is only a scare tactic.
Many people have turned to online pharmacies because they are convenient and can save you money. Unfortunately, scammers have taken advantage of this by creating fake pharmacy sites with deep discounts on either fake or non-existent drugs. These sites may even take orders without a prescription.
All these sites will do is steal your money. But, even if you get the products in the mail, they could harm your health.
Other scammers create websites selling actual products but then claim that their supplements are miracle cures and can cure anything from COVID-19 to AIDS. But these claims are never backed by clinical studies.
If you notice any of the red flags of a scam involving healthcare, well-being, and medical products, make sure to use the tips below to ensure you don't become a victim of the scam:
If you are a victim of one of these scams, you can do a few things to ensure that the scammer gets caught and that fewer people become victims in the future. Sometimes, you may also be able to get some or all of the money you lost back.
It is essential to document the scam to provide complete information about the fraud to the authorities. Save emails, letters, and text messages you receive from the scammer and take notes on any conversation you had with them while the details are fresh in your mind.
You will want to report the scam to the authorities. Here are some places to start:
You should also contact the bank or credit card provider involved if fraudulent charges were made to your account. Depending on the scam, you can sometimes get the charges reversed if you send money to a scammer.
You can often dispute and reverse fraudulent charges made with your credit or debit card because many card companies offer fraud protection. At the very least, you can prevent any future debits to your account.
Once you have documented the scam and provided the details to authorities, block the scammers from contacting you by marking the email, text, or phone number as spam.
If you gave the scammer any personal information, especially your SSN, you need to protect your credit. You can contact any one of the three credit bureaus and request that they place a fraud alert on your credit. This will require anyone using your information to apply for credit to provide proper identification.
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