Covid 19 Warning and Resources for Older Adults
These helpful resources can protect you from scammers and provide you with information on healthcare, meal delivery, social security and more...
Scams Abound Amid Pandemic Panic
Sadly, as is the case in any crisis, there are those among us who are looking to capitalize on cruelty and take advantage of heightened vulnerabilities. Hackers are trying to lure victims to click on COVID-19 related hyperlinks that contain malicious software and other computer viruses. In some cases, these scams look like official messages from the government and they send people to fake websites where their sensitive information can be stolen.
The following guidelines can help you protect yourself from these digital scams and stay clear of suspicious links you may come across in your internet travels.
How to Spot a Phishing Email
Phishing is a practice in which scammers send emails that appear to be from legitimate organizations. In the case of COVID-19, they may promise to share important information about the coronavirus or how to keep your family safe. In short, they prey on a public fearful of a dangerous virus.
Phishing emails may ask you to click on a link or open an attachment, actions that may download malicious software, called malware, onto your computer. Malware is often used by cybercriminals to log your keystrokes and learn your passwords, especially to your bank accounts or other financial data. Their goal is typically identity theft.
In the case of coronavirus, there are already two types of phishing emails being used by criminals:
- CDC Alerts – In a time when Americans are looking daily for advice and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, criminals are leveraging emails that appear to be from the CDC. The messages might include links that claim to take you to a list of confirmed coronavirus cases in your area. For example, one phishing email currently circulating reads, “You are immediately advised to go through the cases above for safety hazard.”
- Health Advice Emails – Cybercriminals are also sending phishing emails that claim to offer medical advice that will protect you from coronavirus. They often claim to be from medical experts in China, where the outbreak began. One example email, cited on the U.S. Department of Health and Services website, says, “This little measure can save you.”
There are other clues besides subject matter that may help you identify phishing emails, too. Grammatical and spelling errors, generic greetings like “Dear Sir or Madam,” requests for personal information and messaging about “acting now” are all suspect.
If you suspect you’ve received a phishing email, delete it without opening it or clicking on links or attachments. Doing so will help you avoid possible attempts at fraud or identity theft.
How to Avoid Fake Ads
Scammers also try to entice unknowing consumers with advertisements for products claiming to treat or cure coronavirus. They usually appear with bright, bold text and attempt to create a sense of urgency by mentioning limited supplies or a one-time offer.
Clicking on ads like these can accidentally download malware onto your computer, just as with phishing emails. Other times, you may be taken to a product website that looks legitimate, where you pay for a product you never receive. By the time you realize what has happened, it’s too late; you’ve already shared personal information, usually including your credit card number.
To remain safe, avoid clicking on any advertisements related to coronavirus products.
RESOURCES for OLDER ADULTS
General Information and Updates
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the nation’s health protection agency and is considered to be the best source for updated information on Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for Americans. This link has specific information for higher risk groups, such as older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) works with the U.S. and more than 190 other countries. WHO is considered to be the best source of information to learn about the pandemic across the world. This link provides answers to frequently asked questions about coronavirus.
This link from WHO provides “myth busters” to some inaccurate information that is circulating.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, whose mission is “advancing independence, integration, and inclusion throughout life,” has resources for older adults and people with disabilities.
Finding Local Resources for Meals, Food and Other Needs
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) is a membership association representing America’s national network of 622 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). Local AAAs provide services (e.g., meals, transportation, and in-home services), information, and referrals in a specific area.
The national website has a tool to find your local AAA by entering your zip code. Once the tool displays your local AAA, click through to their website(s) and learn more about resources in your area. The coronavirus has caused nearly all AAAs to modify their services, so confirm what is currently available before seeking services. For example, most community meal programs have been modified.
The national Meals on Wheels website has a tool to find local Meals on Wheels by entering your zip code. Once the tool displays local Meals on Wheels, click through to their website(s) and learn more about how you can receive services. In some instances, you may need to call to get specific details for your area.
The Feeding America network is the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S. Its website has a tool to find local foodbanks by entering your zip code. Once the tool displays local foodbank(s), click through to their website(s) and learn more about how you can receive services. In some instances, you may need to call to get specific details for your area.
Local Stores Open Early for Older Adults and Others This article lists stores that may be allowing certain people to shop before opening to the general public.
Check your state’s government websites, such as the department of labor, department of employment, department of health, governor’s office, etc. to learn what resources are available in your state.
Medicare and Other Medical Information
Medicare has many resources and links, which can be found on its website below. https://www.medicare.gov/medicare-coronavirus
Medicare has expanded its coverage to pay for telehealth/telemedicine to encourage Medicare recipients to have appointments with their healthcare providers via phone or videoconferencing, reducing the risk of spreading the virus.
Medicare has suspended its 3-day waiting period rule for payments to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) for COVID-19 patients. Normally, Medicare requires that patients be hospitalized for three days before Medicare will pay for a stay at a SNF. Medicare recipients with COVID-19 can go directly to a SNF, under the direction of their healthcare provider. https://www.cms.gov/files/document/coronavirus-snf-1812f-waiver.pdf
Beware of online medication scams. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s, “BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy” provides tips to avoid scams.
The National Alliance for Caregiving offers tips for “sandwich generation” caregivers – those who are caring for their children or grandchildren as well as an older adult(s).
The Family Caregiver Alliance offers coronavirus-related resources and articles that will be of interest to family caregivers and those in their care, including information for staying home, nursing home visitation guidelines, caregiver self-care, and more.
Social Security, IRS and Tax Information
The IRS has extended the federal tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, 2020. There is no need to file an extension. Be aware that each state sets its own deadline, and you need to verify when your state tax filing and payment deadline is.
All Social Security offices are closed. This article provides information and tips for those who need to reach the Social Security Administration (SSA), or want to learn how to access online SSA tools.
General information and articles regarding coronavirus, including tips for boosting immunity, staying healthy, identifying coronavirus, and getting help from your community.
AARP offers advice on combatting social isolation while remaining safer at home.
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