There is a political philosophy that resurfaces from time-to-time, that goes something like this: “Never waste a good crisis.” It can be traced at least as far back as Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote, “Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.” A time of crisis is a good time to reevaluate priorities, policies, philosophies, and practices. Sadly, where there are opportunities, there are scam artists who have found ways to exploit them during a crisis in order to empty your pockets.
The basic way scammers try to empty your bank account is with empty promises — “If you send us something, we will send you something.” Sometimes, you are asked to send money; other times, gift cards; occasionally, your bank account number, credit card information, or Social Security number. In return, you will “receive” critical medical supplies, vaccinations, aid checks, prizes, COVID-19 test results, vitamin supplements, restoration of your “suspended” benefit payments, or any number of other “act now” goodies.
The best overall reaction to any communication that seems to be playing on your fears is to check it out. Government agencies will not call or contact you asking for money for services. Legitimate contest sponsors would not ask for fees or taxes before you can claim a prize. It is very unlikely that genuine health care workers would set up shop in a non-medical facility (such as a mall parking lot) to take medical “tests” for an exorbitant fee. If you’re not sure about a caller, get a name and phone number and offer to call back later. If they refuse or hang up — good. If the email is unfamiliar, don’t reply or click on any links. Do a search for the sender to see if it’s legit. Don’t fall for unsolicited pleas for charities. If you want to support a charity, find its website and work through that. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and trusted news sites for real information; it’s very unlikely that they would call you out of the blue.
Criminals, like viruses, can quickly adapt and mutate into new forms. The tactics remain the same, but the camouflage changes. Each new crisis brings with it new fears that scammers will exploit. Protect yourself with the mask and gloves of common sense and take the time to check out anything that seems suspicious. Then, wash your hands of these fraud schemes!
If you need legal advice in managing an estate, trust, other elder law issue or veteran’s benefits, the Law Office of Scott C. Painter can help. We specialize in elder law issues ranging from nursing home planning, guardianship, wills, trusts, estates, veteran’s benefits, and other related legal matters. Attorney Scott Painter is CELA® certified under the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF).
A call to us is free, and the best advice is to act now to educate yourself about your options. Waiting to seek legal counsel may limit your options and be costly. Call now for your free consultation at 610-378-5140 or visit painterelderlawpc.com for more information.