Protect your health and your finances

Published 6:32 pm Friday, March 27, 2020

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While the world comes to almost a screeching halt and focuses its undivided attention on the COVID-19 pandemic, there remains a shady cast of characters looming in the shadows and waiting to feast on a pre-occupied prey.

Yes, the scammers will be out in full force. It seems they never take a day off and they become extremely more creative during times of crisis.

They will definitely ramp up their calls now knowing that a large majority of people are hunkered down inside their homes in an effort to ride out the COVID-19 storm.

The North Carolina State Attorney General’s office is warning citizens to be prepared for an onslaught of calls from scammers. The scams being pitched at this point include:

Scammers pretending to work for a healthcare provider. They tell you that a relative or friend has been treated for Coronavirus, and then demand immediate payment for treatment before threatening legal action if you don’t pay. Please be advised that healthcare providers cannot share medical information with anyone other than the patient’s next of kin and typically do not charge for services upfront. If they do, it’s not done over the telephone.

Fake test kits…, the scammer claims to have free COVID-19 testing devices. In some cases, the scammer will also offer free blood pressure monitors and even diabetic testing kits. The end result is they have none of these items; all they want is your personal info, to include the details about your medical insurance.

Some scammers are saying they work with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). They will ask for your sensitive information…Social Security number as well as bank routing information….all in an effort, they say, for you to receive federal funds. The FDIC does not make such calls.

We want everyone to stay safe and sound from COVID-19. In the same sense, we want everyone to avoid being a victim of a scam…..and here’s how you can do that:

Never give out personal or financial information, such as your Social Security number, and banking info – to include your PIN – to an unsolicited caller.

If you have the capability, use a search engine on your home Internet to find out more info about who’s calling you….to include the name of the organization they claim to represent and the phone number they are using. More often than not, that number is “spoofed” – meaning they are hiding their true identity by using a phone number from our local area, but they’re actually not placing a call from a location in our area.

And, never, ever be tricked into making a hasty decision over the phone. These scammers use high-pressure tactics in their quest to gain your valuable information. If that happens, simply hang-up!

As of this moment in time, we’re all on edge with this health pandemic. Please heed the advice offered by local, state and federal officials to safeguard your health and that of your family. However, it’s up to you, and you alone, to not allow scammers to ruin your financial health.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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