The Red Flags of Elder Financial Abuse
Elder abuse sadly takes many forms. It can be physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. The latter is when someone – who is often well known by the victim – illegally or improperly uses an elder’s funds, property or assets. Here are several examples, some signs that abuse may be occurring and steps you can take if you suspect elder financial exploitation.
   
How It Works•
A family member cashes the victim’s checks, uses their credit cards, steals cash or valuables from the home, or convinces them to transfer property.•A crooked financial consultant drains a victim’s financial accounts.•A new “friend” enters the picture and appears to have undue influence.
 
What You Should Know
Unusual changes in bank accounts or how they are managing their money.•Unpaid bills.•Fraudulent signatures on financial documents.•Unusual changes in a will or other financial document.
 
What You Should Do•
If someone is in immediate danger, dial 911.•Report concerns to Adult Protective Services; you can find your local agency at Eldercare Locator or call 1‑800‑677‑1116.•If you suspect abuse of a person living in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or other adult care home, contact the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman.
 
Financial exploitation and fraud come at a huge cost to victims – not only financially. These scourges also have negative social, emotional and health impacts. If you suspect something, do something. For guidance, call the AARP Fraud Watch Helpline at 1‑877‑908‑3360.
Reprinted from AARP Fraud Watch Network 

Online Shopping Scams

The internet continues to reshape the way we shop, with retail apps and social media stores adding to consumers’ online options and the coronavirus pandemic driving people to shop from home in droves. Cybercriminals are keeping pace. Online purchasing is the most common scam type reported to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), accounting for 38 percent of complaints to the BBB’s Scam Tracker in the first seven months of 2020 — up from 24 percent in 2019.

The typical shopping scam starts with a bogus website, mobile app or social media ad. Some faux e-stores are invented from whole cloth, but many mimic trusted retailers, with familiar logos and slogans and a URL that’s easily mistaken for the real thing. They offer popular items at a fraction of the usual cost and promise perks like free shipping and overnight delivery, exploiting the premium online shoppers put on price and speed.

Some of these copycats do deliver merchandise — shoddy knockoffs worth less than even the “discount” price advertised as a once-in-a-lifetime deal on, say, Tiffany watches or Timberland boots. More often, you’ll wait in vain for your purchase to arrive. Reports to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of undelivered orders quadrupled from 2015 to 2019, and no-shows reached record highs in the spring of 2020 as the spread of COVID-19 fueled a spike in online shopping. 

And your losses might not stop there: Scammers may seed phony sites, apps, or links in pop-up ads and email coupons with malware that infects your device and harvests personal information for use in identity theft.

Not surprisingly, these frauds flourish during the holiday season. A November 2020 AARP survey on holiday shopping found that while 72 percent of U.S. consumers are concerned about the security of their personal and financial information when buying something online, only 15 percent could correctly answer at least 7 of 10 true/false questions about safe shopping practices. You need not forgo the ease and endless selection of online shopping, but take precautions to make sure you get what you pay for.

Warning Signs

  • Bargain-basement prices. Internet security firm Norton says to be on guard if discounts exceed 55 percent.
  • Shoddy website design or sloppy English. Real retailers take great care with their online presentation.
  • Limited or suspicious contact options — for example, they only have a fill-in contact form, or the customer-service email is a Yahoo or Gmail account, not a corporate one.
  • URLs with extraneous words or characters (most stores use only their brand name in web addresses) or unusual domains — for example, .bargain, .app or a foreign domain instead of .com or .net.

Do’s

  • Do use trusted sites rather than shopping with a search engine. Scammers can game search results to lead you astray.
  • Do comparison shop. Check prices from multiple retailers to help determine if a deal you’ve seen really is too good to be true.
  • Do research an unfamiliar product or brand. Search for its name with terms like “scam” or “complaint,” and look for reviews.
  • Do check that phone numbers and addresses on store sites are genuine, so you can contact the seller in case of problems.
  • Do carefully read delivery, exchange, refund and privacy policies. If they are vague or nonexistent, take your business elsewhere.
  • Do look twice at URLs and app names. Misplaced or transposed letters are a scam giveaway but easy to miss.
  • Do pay by credit card. Liability for fraudulent charges on credit cards is generally limited to $50, and some providers offer 100 percent purchase protection. Paying by debit card does not off offer such safeguards.

Don’ts

  • Don’t pay by wire transfer, money order or gift card. Sellers that demand these types of payments are scammers, and unlike with credit cards or reputable e-pay services, there’s little recourse to recover your money.
  • Don’t assume a retail website is safe because it is encrypted. Many scam sites use encryption, indicated by a padlock icon or “https://” in front of the URL, to provide a false sense of security. Use other means, like those listed to the left, to confirm if a site is legit.
  • Don’t provide more information than a retailer needs. That should be only your billing information and the shipping address.
  • Don’t use sites that require you to download software or enter personal information to access coupons or discount codes.
  • Don’t buy from sites that are very new, security software maker Norton recommends. Look for a copyright date, and use the WHOIS lookup service to see when a domain was created.

More Resources

Reprinted from AARP Fraud Watch Network

Gift Cards Are Convenient but Can come With Risks

Gift cards have become one of Americans’ favorite ways to mark birthdays and holidays, and — in light of COVID-19’s impact on this shopping season — they likely will be popular once again. A recent survey by AARP reveals that nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults plan to purchase gift cards as presents this holiday season. But be forewarned of potential scams.
   
How it Works
Scammers have come up with novel ways to drain the value of gift cards, or to convince us to buy them at a discount.
 
What You Should Know
A common trick is for thieves to compromise gift cards hanging on store racks. Often, they expose the PIN on the back and then cover it back up with easy-to-obtain replacement stickers. When someone buys and loads a compromised card, the scammer is notified and drains the value from the card.•Fraudsters also lurk on resale or auction websites, ostensibly offering items at an attractive discount. Once they get you interested in buying, they’ll ask you to pay with a gift card. As soon as they get the card number and PIN from you, they vanish, and so does the money on the card.•Scammers send emails or text messages, supposedly from a familiar store or organization saying you’ve won a gift card. To claim it, you just need to provide contact information, click through to a website or answer a few survey questions. Their goal may be to unleash malicious software on your device to access sensitive information, or use your data for identity theft or to sell it to marketers.
 
What You Should Do•
Examine gift cards carefully for signs of tampering before you buy them. Keep the activation receipt with the gift card. You can also register your card with the retailer if the option is offered. This makes it easier to track and quickly report any issues.•Be wary of cards hanging on racks that are easily accessible. See if you can purchase gift cards that are protected behind the counter — or better yet, buy them online directly from the retailer or restaurant that issues them.•Delete any unsolicited email or text message offering you a gift card, without responding. And never give your personal information to anyone in exchange for a gift card.
Reprinted from AARP Fraud Network

Season’s Cheatings: Beware of Holiday Scams

An AARP National Survey of Adults 18+

Gift Threatened with Theft

‘Tis the season — to be on the lookout for possible scams and fraud. Scammers know that, this time of year, people are more focused on the spirit of the holidays than on what’s happening with their pocketbook. 

AARP conducted a survey of 2,842 U.S. adults ages 18 and older to understand their  experience with a variety of scams that are common around the holidays. The study explored experiences with purchasing gift cards, shipping and receiving packages, and charitable giving. In addition, the survey tested the knowledge of adults about several specific scams.

What’s on Your Gift Card?

People usually purchase gift cards for someone they know, and, according to the survey, more than 70 percent of U.S. adults plan to buy gift cards this holiday season. They are most likely to purchase them from a rack at big box stores, pharmacies, or grocery stores, or they may go directly to the issuing merchant or retailer. But scammers have found a way to drain gift cards as soon as they are purchased. In fact, 19 percent reported that they have given and/or received a gift card that had no funds on it.

To Donate or Not to Donate

This time of year, many people will receive calls from causes or organizations asking for a donation. More than one in three U.S. adults said that they have received a donation request to a charity or cause that was likely fraudulent. Nevertheless, only three in ten who received requests for donations checked out the recipient on a charity rating site. Among those who did, more than half decided not to proceed with the donation.

Reprinted from AARP.org

With People Getting COVID-19 Vaccine, Officials Warn That Scams are Next

Paying a fraudster will not let you jump to the head of the line

With the first coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. just authorized, state and federal officials are warning that ruthless criminals will try to capitalize on the historic step to steal people’s money.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a fraud alert on Dec. 3 aimed at Americans eager to get vaccinated against COVID-19: “You will not be asked for money to enhance your ranking for vaccine eligibility.”

The same day as the HHS fraud alert went out, WROC-TV in Rochester, New York, reported that a recorded-scam call offered people a chance to avoid long lines and receive an early dose of the Pfizer vaccine for $79.99.

The two developments happened more than a week before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on Dec. 11, authorized the vaccine on an emergency-use basis.

Top state officials are also sounding the alarm about the potential for criminal activity. Even before the FDA acted, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody warned about product and distribution scams tied to the vaccine.

Stay on ‘high alert’

“Floridians must remain on high alert,” Moody urged. A confluence of factors — vaccines winning or applying for FDA authorization and consumers anxious for immunity from disease — mean “scammers may exploit the situation to rip off Floridians.”


STATE OF FLORIDA / STATE OF MICHIGAN

Ashley Moody (left), the attorney general of Florida, and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, a top health official in Michigan, are among state officials warning about scams tied to coronavirus vaccines.

Leading up to the FDA’s authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, Michigan officials exhorted the public to stay vigilant about COVID-19 scams related to vaccines, treatments, test kits and clinical trials. Be “extremely wary” of anyone who offers you a vaccine now, said Joneigh Khaldun, M.D., a top official at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Here are five key points that state and federal officials want the public to understand.

1. Initially, the vaccine will be available in limited quantities, so people should turn to trusted resources — their doctor or local health department — for guidance.

2. People should not buy any kind of coronavirus vaccine or treatment on the internet or from an online pharmacy.

3. Doses of vaccine that were purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be provided to patients at no cost. Providers, though, may charge an administration fee and have that fee reimbursed by private and public insurance companies. There’s also a means of reimbursement for uninsured patients.

4. Consumers should not respond to any solicitations about the vaccine. “Fraudsters are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams,” HHS officials said in the Dec. 3 fraud advisory.

5. People should not give cash or any other form of payment to suspicious callers, nor should they divulge personal, medical or financial information, which criminals can use to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and to commit medical identity theft.

There will be strict protocols for the order in which certain groups of people, such as nursing home residents and health care workers, will be inoculated. Watch for announcements from federal and state governments. For more information, consult online resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web pages and the FDA’s vaccine web pages

Criminals chase headlines

Cybersecurity expert Mike Stamas learned of the $79.99 Pfizer scam when the Rochester television station interviewed him about it. He told AARP that he’s “not surprised at all” that criminals are out for quick cash during a global health crisis, observing, “Criminals exploit things that are hot in the media as a way to steal.”

Stamas, 42, cofounder of GreyCastle Security in Troy, New York, said the pandemic serves as a reminder to everyone to adhere to good practices with computer devices, passwords and cybersecurity in general. Stamas lives with his father, 83, and always reminds his computer-savvy dad not to click on suspicious emails, respond to unsolicited offers, or interact with a stranger via an email, chat or a website.

“It’s a benefit to have a healthy paranoia,” Stamas said. “And if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Officials fear past is prologue

At the HHS Office of Inspector General, the department’s watchdog arm, an official told AARP on Dec. 8 that so far, it had seen “few signs” of coronavirus vaccine fraud. The watchdog issued its alert based on the way scammers have quickly altered their tactics and schemes throughout the pandemic, spokesperson Tesia Williams said. Scams have varied: selling overpriced or nonexistent personal protective equipment and cleaning products; touting fake cures and treatments; setting up phony testing sites for COVID-19; and cheating government COVID-19 relief programs.

“It is incumbent upon us to alert the public of likely schemes and what people can do to protect themselves,” Williams said.

Pfizer, based in New York City, did not respond to questions from AARP about the reported scam call for a $79.99 vaccine. But since May the global drug company has been warning people about COVID-19 scammers, including counterfeiters, “who scheme to make a profit by price gouging, selling dangerous fake medicines or perpetrating scams on unsuspecting customers.”

“During a crisis, scammers are more prevalent than ever,” Pfizer cautioned, “preying on your fears and targeting those desperate for a solution.”

Reprinted from AARP

Holiday Online Shopping Scams

As we enter the holiday season with the pandemic still in our midst, many of us will rely on online shopping for this year’s gift buying. Think of this as a possible gift to scammers, who are busy setting traps to get in on the transaction action. Here’s how to spot and avoid online shopping scams.
   
How It Works•
Scammers set up fake websites or smartphone apps, often made to look just like a trusted retailer.•Some bogus websites are made to look like a legitimate, if unfamiliar, shopping destination.•Scammers lure shoppers with emails, text messages and ads on social media.•They offer hot items at a fraction of the usual cost and may throw in free shipping and overnight delivery.
 
What You Should Know
Some of the sham sites do deliver merchandise, but typically a knockoff brand, while others don’t bother sending anything at all.•Bargain-basement prices on popular gift items should make you suspicious if the discount is greater than 55 percent.•Legitimate retailers have meticulous websites — look for spelling errors, bad grammar or no contact information that may indicate the site is a fake.
 
What You Should Do•
Rather than click on a link from an email, text or social media ad, open your web browser and type in the web address yourself. This ensures you are going to the correct site and reduces the risk that clicking on a link brings with it — namely adding malware to your device to steal your credentials.•When making an online purchase, use a credit card, which gives you more protections should fraud occur.•Be sure to keep your operating and antivirus software current.
Reprinted from AARP Fraud Watch Network
 

Older Adults Need Better Online Security

A drill sergeant would shout it out loudly and clearly: “People, strengthen your passwords!” That’s a critical recommendation to emerge in an AARP-sponsored report that examined identity fraud and found more than 1 in 4 Americans were hit by identity fraud last year, when losses were almost $17 billion.

Identity fraud is worse than identity theft, which is when your personally identifiable information (PII) is stolen or compromised, as in a data breach. In identity fraud cases, a crook capitalizes on that sensitive data and rips you off or commits a related offense, says Javelin Strategy & Research, which wrote the report after surveying 5,000 adults in the U.S.

‘Great digital migration’

With loads of shopping and other transactions moving online, especially during the pandemic, what’s happening will eventually be described as the “great digital migration,” the report says. And 2019’s estimated $16.9 billion in losses could climb as consumers adapt to a “digitally infused lifestyle.”

Today, people want contactless, safe and faster personal and financial transactions and, according to the report, the good news is that desire will drive commercial innovation. The bad news: Forecasts call for “increased criminal acts that target consumers and monetize their personally identifiable data,” says the report, entitled “Identity Fraud in Three Acts: A Consumer Guide.” The report focuses on adults 55 and older.

Create an action plan

What to do? Create an action plan to keep safe — and stronger passwords are a good start. It’s risky for a consumer to use an identical sign-on name — coupled with the same, weak password — across multiple social-media accounts, bank accounts and e-commerce sites, says Javelin’s John Buzzard, who wrote the report.

“Once the criminal cracks the formula, so to speak, and they take over your account, they just start to take over everything because you’ve made it very, very easy for them,” says Buzzard, the lead analyst for fraud and security at Javelin, based in Pleasanton, California.

Here’s more for your action plan:

1. Use a password manager tool or app. Password managers such as LastPass or Bitwarden store and protect passwords using strong encryption. Both offer free and for-a-fee services and you can find them in the App Store or online.

2. Secure personal payments with digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. They’re standard features on most smartphones and retailers accept them widely. Wallets use encryption to prevent payment card information from being shared in the open with merchants.

3. Lock your payment cards. Many financial institutions offer card controls that manage how and where payments can be made. Consumers also can decide if they want to limit amounts spent, restrict spending to geographical areas or prevent card use at certain types of merchants, such as jewelry stores.

4. Enable two-step authentication to access digital accounts. Onetime access codes make it difficult for criminals to take over sensitive email, financial and mobile phone accounts.

5. Hang up on strangers, and independently verify everything. Do not speak to people you do not know who contact you about sensitive, urgent or threatening personal business matters.

6. Write down important telephone numbers and keep them in a safe place. Criminals are now posting fake customer-service numbers online. It’s safer to make a list of trusted companies so you may reach them quickly.

7. Safeguard every computer device with stronger security methods. Mobile phones, laptops and tablets typically contain sensitive PII, so access to every digital device should be secured with complex passwords and screen locks that use a fingerprint or facial recognition.

8. Install anti-malware protection on all digital devices: laptops, mobile phones, personal computers and tablets.

Key findings of survey

The action plan arises because of key survey findings:

  • Twenty-seven percent of respondents ages 55 to 64 said they had been victims of identity fraud, and 26 percent of those 65 and older. However, when identity fraud strikes these older adults, the financial damage is far less than the national average.
  • Most adults 55 and older reported having a hard time remembering passwords. Among those ages 55 to 64, it 56 percent said they have difficulty, and among those 65 and older, 60 percent.
  • Men and women 55-plus lead “digitally infused” lives. Two-thirds use online banking weekly, which is higher than adults ages 18 to 44. With respect to smartphones, 81 percent of people ages 55 to 64 have them, and so do 77 percent of those 65 and older.
  • Identity fraud victims do not necessarily change their behavior afterward. Among those 65 and older, 70 percent reported reluctance to avoid certain merchants, switch forms of payment, spend less money online, spend less in physical stores and switch their credit-card companies or banks.
  • Consumers 55 and older want banks to start using stronger security protocols. Roughly 90 percent want more fingerprint scanning and roughly 80 percent view facial recognition as trustworthy for financial transactions and private business matters.
  • Consumers 55 and older are adopting safer practices: More than 50 percent have enrolled in identity-protection or credit-monitoring services, and 29 percent have enabled credit freezes at credit bureaus.

The online survey of a representative sample of 5,000 adults occurred from Oct. 22 to Nov. 4, 2019. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 1.41 percent when all 5,000 respondents answered questions; it is plus or minus 3.22 percent for questions answered by identity fraud victims.

Reprinted from AARP Fraud Network

Scams Spike on Instagram, Other Social Media Sites Amid Covid-19

Online shopping frauds a top complaint to FTC as pandemic emerged

Are you a foodie? A football fanatic? A fan of Pope Francis? There’s something for everyone on Instagram, the video- and photo-sharing platform that debuted 10 years ago. Be careful, though, because amid the coronavirus outbreak, consumer advocates are sounding an alarm about fraudsters lurking on social media sites including Instagram, which boasts more than 1 billion users worldwide.

Lately there’s been a record-shattering number of complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about scams that arise on social media platforms and rip people off for millions. The FTC says online shopping frauds were the most common type of social media scam in the first half of the year; in many cases, people ordered goods that never arrived. Such cases were followed, in descending order, by romance scams and impostor scams involving businesses, people supposedly in need or government agencies.

Among the FTC’s findings:

  • There were nearly 16 million complaints about scams that started on social media sites from April through June, and losses of $56 million. The figures reflect a 13-fold increase in complaints — and eightfold jump in losses — compared to the same period in 2016.
  • During the first half of 2020, there were nearly 25 million complaints in total with $117 million in losses, compared to $134 million in overall losses last year.

“Scammers go where the people are — or they’re already there waiting for the people to come,” says Emma Fletcher, an FTC program analyst. “Like so many ways that [bad actors] reach people — whether it’s phone, email or text — it’s just another way to reach people without a lot of costs, while being able to remain anonymous.”

Instagram scams range from phony romances to fake jobs

Instagram, based in San Francisco and owned by Facebook, urges users to avoid a variety of scams, starting with romance scams, on its site. Next it lists lottery scams (you’ve won big but must pay a fee); loan scams (an instant note for a small fee paid advance); false investment scams (convert $100 into $1,000); and job scams (misleading or fake posts to steal money or personal data), among others.

Instagram spokeswoman Raki Wane says it takes down accounts that are deemed malicious or break its rules but did not divulge the percentage of accounts held by suspected fraudsters. “We regularly monitor for trends and are always improving our systems to provide a better experience for our community,” she tells AARP. “We’ve removed large numbers of impersonating accounts on a consistent basis through a combination of technology, reporting tools and human review.”

Impersonation predates the internet and runs the gamut: Scammers pretend to be celebrities, influencers, politicians and business executives, she adds.

Some Instagram fraudsters use fake names, and others operate in broad daylight, as recent cases reflect:

  • A California actor who played parts in the movies Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3 and Thor is awaiting trial for allegedly peddling a fake cure for COVID-19 and deceiving potential investors. Keith L. Middlebrook, calling himself a “Genius Entrepreneur Icon,” posted videos on Instagram claiming he had an injection to cure coronavirus infections and a pill to prevent them. His posts received more than a million views after only a few days.
  • In October, several people were charged in New Jersey for a scheme involving counterfeit economic-stimulus checks purportedly issued by the federal government. The defendants touted the chance for “quick cash” on Instagram and Snapchat.
  • In July, a California woman who faked a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma was charged for collecting tens of thousands of dollars in donations for cancer treatment she never needed or received. Amanda C. Riley had chronicled her supposed illness in a blog and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Finally, there’s “Victim One” in upstate New York, the target of a romance fraudster she met on Instagram. She lost more than $250,000 to the man and his associates. The man lied to her, saying he needed money for equipment while he was repairing an oil rig off China. Most of it was money sent by wire transfer; she also gave away iTunes gift cards and electronics.

That case triggered a prosecutor’s ominous forecast. “In our increasingly screen-addicted world, I see these sorts of scams proliferating in the future,” U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. of the Western District of New York said last year in announcing that a Georgia woman had been charged in the scheme.

Calls to AARP Helpline

Complaints about Instagram scams during the pandemic also have risen at AARP’s toll-free helpline, 877-908-3360. Among recent calls:

  • A New Jersey woman got an Instagram message claiming she’d won an iPhone. Fraudsters took her money, supposedly to activate the smartphone, and hijacked her Gmail account.
  • A California man met someone on Instagram claiming to have won $80 million and purporting to want to share some of the money. The victim paid a cash fee but didn’t get a dime in return.
  • A Pennsylvania woman sent Western Union transfers to buy a car she spotted on Instagram. The new wheels never arrived. To add insult to injury, the fraudster said she could get some of her money back — as long as she helped scam somebody else.

AARP’s Amy Nofziger, who oversees the helpline, compares scrolling on Instagram to flipping through a magazine. “You can see beautiful artwork, pretty nature. If you like sewing, you can follow people who like to sew as well,” she says. “It’s just an inspiring app.” And, by the way, you can find AARP on Instagram.

The danger, Nofziger says, is when an Instagrammer turns to the site, forms a digital connection with a fraudster and, amid a false sense of community, lets his or her guard down. A shared interest in, say, travel could spark an “instant connection,” she says. But don’t act fast. Don’t let another Instragrammer become an instant scammer.

How to avoid social media scams

Be wary of:

  • People you’ve never met in person asking for money.
  • People or accounts asking you to claim a prize, or asking for money or gift cards to receive a prize, other winnings or loan.
  • A request for a fee to apply for a job.
  • Accounts representing large companies, organizations or public figures that are not verified.
  • People claiming to be from Instagram security asking for account information (such as your username or password), or offering you account verification services.
  • People asking you to move a conversation off Instagram to a less public or secure setting, such as a separate email.
  • People claiming to have a friend or relative with an emergency need for cash.
  • People who misrepresent where they are located.
  • Messages that appear to come from a friend or a company you know asking you to click on a suspicious link.
  • Messages or posts with spelling or grammar mistakes.

Be proactive:

  • Before you buy something seen on an ad or post, check out the company by typing its name in a search engine with words like “scam,” “complaint” or “reviews.”
  • Instagram urges people who buy items off the site to search “About This Account” to learn more about a specific business and see all the ads that it is currently running. “We have layers of review in place to protect our community from fraud and low-quality commerce,” a spokeswoman says.
  • If a friend messages you about a way to get financial relief, call the friend first. Did he or she forward the message? If not, tell the friend that his or her account may have been hacked. If the friend did send it, check the offer out before you act.
  • Tighten privacy settings to limit what you share publicly.

Reprinted from AARP Fraud Network

Covid Scams Return

   
First came the health scams
Initial scams around COVID-19 involved peddling treatments, tests and cures, or promises that you could reserve your vaccine by clicking a link (which would install malicious software on your device). When face masks were in high demand, scammers were posting fake ads, coercing people to pay for masks that were never sent. And, while more of an unfair business practice than a scam, vendors were charging outrageous prices for in-demand items (remember the run on toilet paper, anyone?).
 
Next came the economic scams
Economic impact payments began in April, and as soon as they started hitting mailboxes and bank accounts, scammers began working the phones. Often they called claiming to be the IRS and asking for personal or financial information in order to process your stimulus payment. They would even ask for a fee to process the payment faster. Identity thieves were busy redirecting the payments from the intended recipient to their own pockets. And we are still hearing about identity thieves claiming unemployment benefits in the names of other people.
 
And now, contact tracing scams
The latest scam involves contact tracing. As states launch robust contact tracing programs, scammers are taking advantage. Scammers are sending texts with links or making robocalls claiming the recipient has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Their goal? To pry sensitive personal information from people to steal their money or their identity. As the pandemic marches on, it’s giving unique opportunities for scammers to get between you and your money. Please keep yourself — and your money — safe.
Reprinted from AARP

LATEST Updates on Coronavirus

Latest Updates on Coronavirus: Older Americans Urged to Continue ‘Distancing’

High-risk individuals should practice precautions as COVID-19 circulates

  • The share of U.S. adults who plan to get a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is dropping, according to a new national survey from the Pew Research Center. In May, 72 percent of adults said they would definitely or probably get a vaccine if it was available today; now, about 51 percent say they definitely or probably would. What’s more, 49 percent of Americans say they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated at this time. Clinical trials testing the safety and effectiveness of vaccine candidates continue to progress, and experts say it’s likely researchers will know if one works by the end of 2020 or early 2021. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has once again updated its coronavirus testing recommendations after a late-August revision drew criticism from many public health experts. The agency now says individuals who have been in close contact with someone who has a coronavirus infection should be tested for the virus, even in the absence of COVID-19 symptoms. “Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the CDC wrote in its Sept. 18 update.
  • new analysis of electronic health data for roughly 50 million patients published by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) continues to build on previous reports that reveal minority populations disproportionately bear the burden of COVID-19 in the U.S. The research shows that people of color are more likely to test positive for a coronavirus infection than their white peers. Black, Hispanic and Asian patients also had higher rates of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, even after controlling for certain sociodemographic factors and underlying health conditions. This suggests that “other barriers, including racism and discrimination, are affecting outcomes through avenues not captured by these measures,” KFF said in a news release. 
  • CDC Director Robert Redfield told lawmakers in a Wednesday Senate hearing that even if a vaccine candidate proves to be safe and effective in clinical trials and receives government approval soon, it will still be several months before we see the benefits. “In order to have enough of us immunized so we have immunity, I think it’s going to take us six to nine months,” Redfield said. In the meantime, public health efforts to prevent the spread of the virus — mask wearing and social distancing — will continue to be important. 
  • New research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) finds that people with substance use disorders are more susceptible to COVID-19 and its complications. “The lungs and cardiovascular system are often compromised in people with [substance use disorders], which may partially explain their heightened susceptibility to COVID-19,” Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and study co-author said in a statement. “Another contributing factor is the marginalization of people with addiction, which makes it harder for them to access health care services. It is incumbent upon clinicians to meet the unique challenges of caring for this vulnerable population, just as they would any other high-risk group.”
  • Dining out? A study of 314 U.S. adults found that those who tested positive for a coronavirus infection during July were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant compared to those with negative test results. “Exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking, might be important risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the report’s authors write.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) on Sept. 2 issued new guidelines recommending inexpensive and common corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone and dexamethasone for the treatment of patients “with severe and critical COVID-19.” The advice comes after an analysis of several different clinical trials found that corticosteroids cut the risk of death in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The data was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The new guidelines emphasize that steroids should not be used to treat patients with mild symptoms of the disease. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought fear and a sea of change to the world. These studies provide evidence and some hope that an effective, inexpensive, and safe treatment has been identified,” a corresponding JAMA editorial noted.  
  • The FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for convalescent plasma — a component of blood that contains antibodies from people previously infected with the coronavirus — for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. The EUA is not intended to replace randomized clinical trials that are testing the safety and efficacy of the therapy.

Reprinted from AARP