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The Nevada County Public Health department is warning the community of a phone scam offering COVID-19 boosters to residents. Callers representing themselves as Nevada County Public Health department employees are offering to schedule residents for an emergency vaccination clinic. The caller then asks for personal information such as name, address, phone number, date of birth, and health insurance information.
“I can confirm that these calls are not coming from the Nevada County Public Health department,” said director Jill Blake. “This scam seems to target some of the most vulnerable people in our community, including older adults who are at greater risk of serious illness due to COVID-19.”
Blake is urging residents to avoid providing personal information over the phone. “These are confusing times and scammers are taking advantage of this vulnerability to enrich themselves. We all need to be vigilant right now,” Blake said. “If you need to schedule a test or get a COVID-19 vaccine, go to your trusted sources for information.”
Blake recommended calling 211 Connecting Point at 1-833-DIAL211 or checking the County’s website at MyNevadaCounty.com/Coronavirus for up-to-date information on local testing and vaccination sites.
This is not the first COVID-19 scam Nevada County has encountered. Earlier this week, County officials warned of potential COVID-19 testing scams. Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau recently alerted consumers to COVID-19 testing scams, including fake home testing kits and fake testing sites. The California Department of Public Health has received many reports of potentially fraudulent pop-up COVID-19 test sites throughout California.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has also been tracking COVID-19 scams and has offered the following tips to avoid being defrauded:
- Don’t click on links or download files from unexpected emails, even if the sender appears to be a business, government agency or person you recognize. Ditto for text messages and unfamiliar websites.
- Don’t share personal information such as Social Security, Medicare and credit card numbers in response to an unsolicited call, text or email.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited calls, emails, texts or social media messages offering rapid tests and other pandemic-related products. Check the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for a list of approved tests and testing companies before buying tests online.
- Talk to your doctor or consult your local health department to find legitimate testing sites. If you attend a pop- up clinic, watch for red flags such as workers being unable to answer questions about the testing process or pressing attendees for personal or financial data.
- Ignore offers to sell COVID-19 vaccination cards. They are scams. Valid proof of vaccination can be obtained only from legitimate vaccine providers.
- Be wary of phone calls, emails and social media messages urging you to invest in a hot new stock from a company working on coronavirus-related products or services.
- Be skeptical of fundraising calls or emails for COVID-19 victims or virus research, especially if they pressure you to act fast and request payment by prepaid debit cards or gift cards.
- Report COVID-19 scams to the Federal Trade Commission, the National Center for Disaster Fraud and local law enforcement.
If you believe you may have been a victim of a COVID-19 scam, please contact your local law enforcement agency on Nevada County’s non-emergency dispatch line at 530-265-7880 to file a report.