WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB)–Independent Health says it’s seeing an increase in the number of fraudulent calls and phishing-type emails to individuals regarding information about their coverage or alleged updates on the coronavirus. 

“Independent Health is focused on protecting our members from people who may attempt to prey upon their fears and vulnerabilities during this difficult time. Being aware of the types of scams and fraudulent activities you may encounter will help you guard against them and will prevent you from becoming a victim,” the organization said.

Officials tell us members should contact Independent Health’s member service number on the back of their ID card if they receive any suspicious emails or phone calls about coverage or care relating to the coronavirus.

Independent Health says it’s working with the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York to alert Western New Yorkers of this scam.

BBB President and CEO Warren Clark says the bureau is seeing an alarming uptick in scams exploiting people using fear of the coronavirus, often using reputable businesses to trick consumers.

Anyone who receives a call or email they feel may be a scam is asked to report it to the BBB’s Scam Tracker tool.

Here are some suggestions from Independent Health via the U.S. Office of the Inspector General on how to protect yourself from fraud:

  • Be very cautious of unsolicited requests for your Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid numbers
  • Do not share any personal information with an unknown caller. Independent Health would not call you and ask you for your member ID when we already have it
  • Read your Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statements from Independent Health. Make sure you actually received the treatments on the EOB, and question suspicious expenses
  • Beware of offers for free health care services, tests or treatments. These offers are often fraud schemes designed to bill you and Independent Health illegally for treatments you never received
  • More recently, be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites
  • A doctor or other trusted healthcare provider should assess your condition and approve any requests for COVID-19 testing

Independent Health says you can also contact its Fraud & Abuse Hotline at 1-800-665-1182.

Troy Licastro is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.