What’s Happening …

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about contact tracing. It’s the process of identifying people who have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, instructing them to quarantine, and monitoring their symptoms daily. Contact tracers are usually hired by a state’s department of public health. They work with an infected person to get the names and phone numbers for everyone that infected person came in close contact with while they were possibly infectious. Those names and phone numbers are often kept in a secure online system.

Why we’re concerned …

Scams are now being reported where criminals are posing as contact tracers.  

Here’s what you may see from these scammers:

  • Texts saying that you may have come into contact with someone who tested positive AND that contain instructions to click on a link 
  • Any texts received from a legitimate tracer WILL NOT ASK YOU TO CLICK ON A LINK.
  • Phone calls from someone saying the same thing, and then asking you for some personal/financial information 
  • Any tracer who calls will not ask for personal information like a Social Security number, and they won’t ask you for money or your bank account or credit card information.

Legitimate contact from a tracer …

People who may have had contact with someone infected with COVID-19 may first get a text message from the health department, telling them they’ll get a call from a specific number. At the end of the call, that person may be asked if they would like to enroll in a text message program, which sends daily health and safety reminders until the 14-day quarantine ends. 

If you are in doubt as to who is contacting you, contact your state’s Department of Health directly.

More information on NY contact tracing can be found here:

New York: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/new-york-state-contact-tracing 

Beware of COVID-19 Scams


Fraud surrounding COVID-19

As the number of people and communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic grows, so do the scams associated with it.

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

  • Be cautious of anyone who comes to your door offering free coronavirus testing, treatment or supplies. 
  • Review your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB), looking for errors or claims for products or services that you did not receive.  
  • Do not give out your Medicare number, Social Security number or personal information to anyone via phone, text, email, or home visits. 
  • Don’t click on links from sources you do not know. You could be putting your computer or device at risk.  
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads for prevention products or cures for COVID-19, they are most likely a scam. 
  • Be cautious when purchasing medical supplies from unverified sources, including online advertising, emails and phone solicitations. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of fraud, call the NYS Senior Medicare Patrol at 800-333-4374 or visit us online at nysenior.org

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MPPG0010-01-00, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. 


Telehealth and Exposure to Fraud

Telehealth or Telemedicine refers to the practice of treating patients via technology.

The patient no longer has to see the doctor personally. Appointments can be completed by phone, cell phone or computer.   

Medicare recently expanded coverage of telehealth services to enable beneficiaries to access a wider range of services from their providers. However, as telehealth expands, so does the exposure to fraud.   

Ways to Protect Yourself from Telehealth Fraud: 

  • Be sure to call YOUR provider to schedule your telehealth appointment.
  • If you receive a phone call from someone offering you free testing, treatment or supplies, hang up, it is a scam!
  • Guard your Medicare Card: Do not give out yourMed icare number to anyone other than your doctor or health care provider.
  • Review your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) andExp lanation of Benefits (EOB) for improper billing & items that appear that you didn’t order or receive.
  • Write down all of your telehealth appointments in your Personal Healthcare Journal and compare to your MSN and/or EOB.
  • Call your NYS Senior Medicare Patrol with any questions about Telehealth Fraud at 800-333-4374.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90MPPG0010-01-00, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201.