Help Your Patients Stay Safe from COVID-19 Scams
Criminals are using COVID-19 as a chance to steal identities and commit health care fraud. You may want to encourage your patients to be wary of calls asking for their Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) member ID number or other private information like their Social Security number, date of birth or credit card number.
In some cases, scammers might say they'll send a COVID-19 test, masks or other items, but they will need the person’s health plan ID number. Others may say they need credit card info to pay for shipping.
Some scams aimed at stealing personal information or money that have been reported include:
- Ads for vaccines, drugs or products to prevent or treat the virus
- Emails about COVID-19 that include malware links or request personal information
- Calls from “doctors” offering their telehealth services
- Door-to-door visits offering to do home testing
If your patients get this type of call, email, text or mail, they should ask themselves these questions:
- Does it come from someone I know and trust?
- Does the offer seem too good to be true?
- Does it make me feel afraid or threatened?
- Is there urgency in the message to “act now before it’s too late?”
- Are they asking for money with the promise to get something in return?
- Do they want private information such as Social Security or credit card numbers? Government agencies will never call you to ask for private information or money.
- Are they claiming the service is “free” but still need my plan ID number or credit card number?
If there is any doubt, delete the email or text, hang up on the caller or destroy the mailer.
A few additional tips. Encourage patients to:
- Guard their member ID cards just like a credit or debit card
- Check claim summary forms for errors each time they get one
- Only share their member ID card number with:
- The drugstore they use
- Primary and specialty care doctors they’ve seen before
- Health professionals or facilities their doctors have referred them to
If identity theft is suspected, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission and/or contact the local police department.
Anyone, including providers and BCBSIL members, who are aware of potential fraud, may file a report online or call our Fraud Hotline at 800-543-0867 (TTY 711) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All online reports and calls are confidential, and the caller may remain anonymous.
- For the most recent recommendations about COVID-19 scams, visit the Federal Communications Commission website.
- Access the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government.
- The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association has more health care fraud tips.
The above material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own best medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the best course of treatment.