Nebraska Department of Insurance warns of fraud with coronavirus
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Nebraska Department of Insurance warns of fraud with coronavirus

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Scammers have been using the COVID-19 as a way to scam people over the phone for a "cure."

Scams associated with a “cure” for the coronavirus are taking advantage of those they call, according to the Nebraska Department of Insurance’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).

According to a SHIIP press release, scammers often use public health emergencies as opportunities for fraud. As COVID-19 has more of a serious impact on older populations, they are the target for these calls.

“There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores,” according to the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Dodge County Sheriff Steve Hespen said although he’s heard of the calls concerning “pills and cures” taking place, he hasn’t taken any reports on frauds of that nature so far.

“I think history will kind of dictate that anytime there’s a crisis, whether it be tornado-related, storm-related, any kind of disaster or pandemic like we’re going through now, there’s always the opportunity for people to take advantage of a situation and whatever scams they can come with up,” he said.

Hespen said people should be wary of any unsolicited calls that ask for money or any personal identifying information, including credit card or social security numbers.

“Businesses don’t call and ask for personal information, whether they be healthcare or anything like that,” he said. “It’s just not a practice that I can think of anybody that has, so anytime they ask for information, you should consider it to be fraudulent.”

Those who use email or social media should also be wary of people claiming to be experts. Websites posing as maps for COVID-19 can also infect computers with malware. Credible information can be found on website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Although Hespen said it’s always unfortunate to see people making these calls, he said it’s even more so to see them during a time of crisis.

“History will tell you that those people are out there and they will try to take advantage of people however they possibly can,” he said. “So just beware.”

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