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Don’t Fall for Fraudulent Schemes During Our National COVID-19 Fight
For Immediate Release: 2020-03-26
Rochester, NY –
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is focused on protecting our members from people who may attempt to prey upon your fears and vulnerabilities during this difficult time. Being aware of the types of scams and fraudulent activities you may encounter will help you guard against them and will prevent you from becoming a victim.
We encourage everyone to:
• Always review your Monthly Health Statement and be on the lookout for unexplained or unauthorized charges.
• Ignore any offer for vaccinations to treat the virus. There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine, pill, potion, lotion, lozenge, or other prescription or over-the-counter product available to treat or cure COVID-19 (coronavirus). Please ignore offers promising otherwise. Stay informed about the disease by visiting the websites of the:
o U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
o NYS Department of Health or by calling a special COVID-19 hotline: 1-888-364-3065.
• Be wary of phone calls from people who claim to be from our Health Plan and are asking for your health insurance number, address or other personal information. These callers may offer you free services or medication or offer other false information – contact us at the number on your ID card to verify if not sure.
• Hang up on robocalls. Don’t respond to any questions or press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
• Be aware of spear-phishing emails referencing coronavirus or COVID-19, which may contain malware. Do not open any documents or click on any links unless you are absolutely sure they are safe.
• Be aware that scammers may contact people by phone and email and pretend to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and they may demand payment for that treatment.
• Be wary of scammers going door to door offering free test kits in exchange for insurance information or cash. Don’t accept any other medications (e.g., inhalers) from a person who comes to your door. Your safety is of the utmost importance. Do not open the door for ANYONE you do not know.
• Keep an eye out for fake websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies through these channels, the scammers take the money and never provide the promised supplies.
• Be aware that scammers are creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.
• Avoid price gouging by individuals and businesses that sell essential goods, like hand sanitizer, for significantly higher prices than normal. Report retailers that appear to take unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services that are vital to the health, safety, or welfare of consumers for an excessive price. Report such incidents to the OAG.
• Use caution when making charitable donations. You should never feel rushed or pressured to donate, and never make donations in cash, by gift card, or by money wire. If you receive a charitable solicitation, do some research to determine whether the charity is legitimate. Here are some helpful resources that provide lists of reputable charities and those that adhere to accountability standards:
o Charity Navigator
o Better Business Bureau
o You can report suspicious charitable solicitations and scams to the OAG’s Charities Bureau.
• Beware of COVID-19-related investment scams. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission recently warned investors about coronavirus investment frauds. If investors are aware of or suspect securities fraud or wrongdoing, they can contact the OAG's Investor Protection Bureau.
This information and much more can be found at the New York State Attorney General’s website at https://ag.ny.gov/coronavirus, as well as the Coronavirus Scams page on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission website here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing.
If you suspect fraud related to your health insurance, you can:
• Call our Fraud Hotline at 1-800-378-8024.
• Or call the BCBS Federal Employee Program Fraud Hotline 1-800-337-8440.
• You may also report possible fraud, waste, and abuse by clicking on this convenient online form at https://news.excellusbcbs.com/about-us/fraud-abuse-prevention
• Please note that ALL fraud, waste, and abuse referrals, whether made online or by phone, are CONFIDENTIAL and can be made ANONYMOUSLY.
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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 3,500 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.