Posted and filed under Community, Compliance, Fraud.

Relaxed Doesn’t Mean Right

…and it certainly doesn’t imply safe. First, we are seeing it with Cybersecurity. Then, we will see more leniency with HIPAA and FWA around the practices and procedures that are occurring. We have seen unprecedented allowances in the past two months. CMS is relaxing the rules, telehealth is being set up to work – but not necessarily the right way, especially in the long term.

Each day, CMS publishes…then the pontification starts, on a rule change or alteration of a rule.  It is incredibly important to follow the source of the truth and ensure that any third-party references you are relying upon, are referencing their source. The MedLearn Network is a great source of information that can be used as a starting point.  Seek the advice of the professionals as a follow up for implementation. 

Researchers at cybersecurity firm Cyble found credentials for more than half a million Zoom accounts – information likely gathered via a combination of hacking and credential stuffing – the use of old passwords and usernames found in past breaches. Cycle was able to purchase 530,000 accounts for a more $0.0020 each. These compromised accounts are frequently used in a practice called Zoombombing, which is a form of trolling video conferences by dropping in on meetings with offensive content.

The scariest part of the whole ordeal? The information being sold on the dark web isn’t necessarily indicative of hacking. Since the Coronavirus peak, Zoom has struggled to reconcile with an influx of security issues spurred by increased usage and demand for the service. With millions using the platform daily, hackers are enticed by user behaviors and barrage the service in hopes of hitting the credential stuff jackpot.

Relaxed rules. Hasty, reactionary policies. Unprecedented times. All of these changes might be mandatory given the circumstances, but they’ve created opportunities for more fraud across every industry. During the past two months, Americans have lost more than $10 million as many cases have been reported to the Federal Trade Commission. We are home alone with little sense of normalcy.  We are dropping our guard emotionally and financially.

Whether you are helping the senior in your life understand how to not give away their secure information or you are double checking your next medication, please be extra careful and share your knowledge with the senior community. They are the ones most at risk right now of both: catching COVID-19 and getting financially duped.

Here are just 5 of many fraud schemes gaining momentum at the hands of opportunistic fraudsters.

  1. Fake commodities
    1. One California medical spa doctor is facing serious federal charges after he allegedly told patients that the prescription drug hydroxychloroquine could cure patients of the Coronavirus. According to federal authorities: He’s charged with mail fraud in connection to the sale of what he described as a “miracle cure for COVID -19”.
    1. European law enforcement found themselves ensnared in a face mask fraud scheme while attempting to purchase PPE for their workforce. What they soon found was that one online retailer had been taking millions of dollars for masks that never existed. The scheme, first discovered by German police, is now being pursued by multiple municipalities.
  2. Charities and donations
    1. Do your homework when it comes to COVID-19 related donations and charitable efforts. The Federal Trade Commission is warning bleeding hearts of the various charitable scams making their way through the population. Forbes magazine recommends looking up the charity’s EIN to confirm their legitimacy.
  3. Text messages & other tech
    1. If you get a text message from a number you don’t recognize that says, “Someone who came in contact with you has tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID-19 & recommends you self-isolate/get-tested,” – don’t panic. One Maine police department caught this scheme that preys on fear to obtain personal information from those unlucky enough to receive this message.
    1. Phishing and attempts at installing malware are increasing in likelihood thanks to COVID-19. Google reports blocking more than 18 million suspicious coronavirus-related emails from its Gmail users every day. These emails often involve downloadable attachments or external links disguised as invoices, medical documentation, and more.
  4. Stimulus check scams
    1. People aren’t always who they say they are. Scammers will be making phone calls and sending messages in hopes of capturing some personally identifiable information that might allow them to reap the financial benefits of your stimulus checks. They might even knock on your door. Metropolitan police officers warned their communities of door-to-door scammers dressed as government officials. In a pandemic – you’re not likely to see an official knocking on doors for information. When in doubt, lock the door and keep yourself safe.
  5. Small businesses may be preyed upon
    1. Given the current business environment, small business owners are working harder than ever to stay afloat. Fraudsters are taking advantage of their plight with fake financial assistance programs, relief funds, and more. If you’re a small business owner, be weary of any emails that seem too good to be true. Chances are, it probably is.

If you believe that you’ve witnessed fraud in the act, submit a claim to the Federal Trade Commission as soon as possible.  Next week, be on the lookout for a small eBook on how to better protect yourself from fraud in all of its forms. This is the first of many resources we’ll be providing on navigating the post-COVID-19 world. In the meantime, feel free to share this graphic on social media to help spread awareness.