How to Spot COVID-19 Scams and What You Should Do

How to Spot COVID-19 Scams and What You Should Do

Criminals are using the COVID-19 pandemic to steal identities and commit health care fraud. Be wary if you get a call or text asking for your BCBSMT member ID number or other private information like your social security number, date of birth or credit card number. 

Scammers might say they can get you COVID-19 vaccines, tests, masks or other related items. All they need is your health plan ID number. Others may say they just need your credit card info to pay for shipping. 

These scams come in many forms, but they’re all designed to steal your personal information or money.

Here are some of the scams that have been reported: 

  • Ads for vaccines, drugs or products to prevent or treat the virus 
  • Emails about COVID-19 that include malware links or request personal information 
  • Calls from “doctors” offering their telehealth services 
  • Door-to-door visits offering home testing 
  • Calls or texts about getting or purchasing the vaccine

If you get this type of call, email, text or mail, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Does it come from someone you know and trust?  
  • Does the offer seem too good to be true?  
  • Does it make you feel afraid or threatened?  
  • Does it push an urgent message like “act now before it’s too late?”  
  • Does it ask for money with the promise to provide something in return?  
  • Does it ask for private information such as Social Security or credit card numbers?  
  • Does it claim the service is “free” but still need your plan ID number? 

If there is any doubt, delete the email or text, hang up on the caller or destroy the mailer. 

If you have insurance, take these steps to protect your identity. 

  • Guard your member ID card like you would a credit or debit card.  
  • If you get a health care claim summary, but haven’t had a recent health care visit, check your recent claims summaries and explanation of benefits forms. In fact, review them carefully each time you get one.
  • Only share your member ID card number with: 
    • The pharmacy you use 
    • Primary and specialty care doctors you see 
    • Health professionals and facilities your doctors refer you to  

Report anything you suspect is fraud by submitting a report online leaving site icon or calling our Fraud Hotline at 800-543-0867 (TTY 711) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you suspect identity theft, you can also file a complaint leaving site icon with the Federal Communications Commission or contact your local police department. 

Remember, government agencies will never call you to ask for private information or money.  

Here are additional resources you can check for information about COVID-19 scams: 

Source: Coronavirus Advice for Consumers, leaving site icon Federal Trade Commission, 2022

Originally published 5/27/2020; Revised 2022, 2023