Legal Services VI Warns COVID-19 Fraud Is Increasing

Artist's conception of the COVID-19 virus. (Shutterstock image)
Artist’s conception of the COVID-19 virus. (Shutterstock image)

As the number of people and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic grows, so do the scams associated with it. Scammers use public health emergencies as opportunities for new fraud schemes, and because older adults are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19, they may target older populations.

“There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine for COVID-19, and although there may be treatments for symptoms, there is no ‘cure.’ However, scammers often use fear-based tactics to convince people that a vaccine or cure is now being offered,” said Aimeé Griles, project director of the Virgin Islands Senior Medicare Patrol (VI-SMP).

It’s also important to remember that although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virgin Islands Department of Health and other public health officials may contact someone if they believe that person may have been exposed to the virus, they will not need to ask you for insurance or financial information.

The Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) recommends that Medicare beneficiaries:

  • Contact your own doctor if you are experiencing potential symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Do not give out your Medicare number, Social Security number, or personal information in response to unsolicited calls, texts, emails, home visits, or booths at health fairs and other public venues. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes as well.
  • Be suspicious of anyone going door-to-door to offer free coronavirus or COVID-19 testing, supplies or treatments.
  • Carefully review your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB), looking for errors or claims for products or services that weren’t received.
  • Follow the instructions of the Virgin Islands government officials for other actions you should be taking in response to COVID-19.
  • Contact the VI-SMP for help. SMPs empower and assist Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers to prevent, detect and report health care fraud, errors and abuse.

The Virgin Islands Senior Medicare Patrol (VI-SMP) is ready to provide people with the information they need to protect themselves from Medicare fraud, errors and abuse; detect potential fraud, errors and abuse; and report concerns. SMPs help educate and empower Medicare beneficiaries in the fight against health care fraud. The Senior Medical Patrol can help people with their questions or complaints about potential fraud and abuse issues.

It also provides information and educational presentations. To locate the local Senior Medicare Patrol office, contact Aimeé Griles at 1-877-784-0228 or via email: [email protected].

About Legal Services of the Virgin Islands, Inc.: Legal Services is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and the only entity in the U.S. Virgin Islands that provides effective and free high-quality civil legal assistance to low income and underserved individuals in the community.