The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made available a recent webinar, where staffers at the agencies detail the extent and operations of many scams that exist aiming to take advantage of senior citizens during the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The webinar, “COVID-19 Scams and Older Adults,” runs for just over an hour and discusses topics including robocalls and “spoofing” (when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity); bogus COVID-19 tests and pharmacy offers; financial relief and charity scams; bad actors trying to encourage seniors to use peer-to-peer mobile payment applications on their computers or smart devices; and the quickly-emerging COVID-19 vaccine scams.
“State and local health officials nationwide have recently developed area-specific plans for COVID-19 vaccinations,” the information about the webinar reads. “Older adults have been prioritized to receive vaccinations and are among the most vulnerable populations to be impacted by COVID-19. Desire for the vaccine and fear of contracting COVID-19 have created opportunities for fraudsters to use robocalls and robo texts to steal money and personal information from consumers, particularly older Americans. The webinar provided tips to avoid vaccine-related scams and information on resources available to older adults.”
The webinar also featured tips designed to help older Americans combat the efforts of scammers seeking out their personal information. Some of these tips include simply not answering any calls from numbers that they don’t recognize; never providing any personally identifying or sensitive information; and asking the senior’s phone service provider what kinds of blocking tools they can offer.
Additionally, if a scammer represents themselves as working for a recognizable company, the victim is advised to hang up and check the number that called them with the publicly-available phone number of the company they claim to represent.
The presentation was hosted in part by Lisa Schifferle, a Senior Policy Analyst with the CFPB’s Office of Older Americans who presented on some of the details and financial impacts of new and emerging COVID-19 senior scams, as well as by Hilary Dalin, director of the Office of Elder Justice and Adult Protective Services in HHS’ Administration for Community Living.
There was also a moderated question-and-answer session at the conclusion of the webinar, and the full event is viewable on the website of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and on the FCC’s YouTube channel.
Watch the full presentation at the FCC.