No matter how good or bad a situation is, there are people out there who use it to their situation to prey upon victims that don’t believe a scam could happen to them.

Don’t be one of those victims. Be wary of pitfalls. Recognize the danger signs. Be more skeptical of too-good-to-be-true schemes. Protect your privacy.

Especially in the age of COVID-19 scams.

As a public service, PrimeWest Health is warning area residents of new scams related to the pandemic. PrimeWest Health is a health plan owned by 24 rural Minnesota counties including Douglas County.

Scammers are targeting people in many ways, including telemarketing calls, social media, and even door-to-door visits, according to PrimeWest.

One common scam is the offer of a “test kit” in exchange for personal information such as health insurance information. The scammer then uses these details to bill false medical claims.

Other common scams offer miracle cures or treatments, according to PrimeWest.

To avoid becoming a scammer’s next victim, follow these tips provided by PrimeWest Health:

  • Do not share personal, medical, or financial information over the phone or through email.

  • Beware of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. If scammers get your personal information, they may use it in other fraud schemes.

  • Ignore social media offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatment.

  • Have a doctor or other health care provider assess your condition and approve any requests for COVID-19 testing.

  • It can sometimes be tough to know what is true and what isn’t. Call your health care provider or local public health office immediately if you have questions about offers or services relating to COVID-19.

The Federal Trade Commission is trying to stay on top of the COVID-19 scams. Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection wrote about the topic last week and said scammers are shifting their focus to the economic stimulus payments, among other things, to find new ways to get money or information.

Smith noted that it took a lawsuit to stop a company that, allegedly, pretended to be affiliated with the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, fooling hundreds – if not thousands – of small businesses. A suit was also filed against an individual for selling a product that he claimed could treat not only the coronavirus, but also cancer.

Smith gave these three warnings:

  • Scammers are peddling cures and treatments with no proof they work. Remember: Right now, there is nothing that has been proven to prevent COVID-19.

  • Anyone who tells you to pay them by gift card, money transfer, cash, or Bitcoin is a scammer. Period. And, if they say they’re from the government, they’re not.

  • Never give your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number to anyone who contacts you. Again, not even if they say they’re from the government.

Smith’s advice: “If you remember those three things, and share them in your community, we can cut scammers’ success rates. Keep up with the latest from the FTC by signing up for Consumer Alerts. And, when you spot a scam, tell the FTC: ftc.gov/complaint. Because you can help us keep working to put a stop to these scams.”