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Watch out for Amazon bogus charges

| August 6, 2020 1:00 AM

After last week’s report to readers about Amazon customers being targeted by scammers, I received a few more calls from local readers this week with communications they have received supposedly from Amazon.

One Coeur d’Alene reader received an email from Amazon thanking him for his recent order for two Google Play gift cards for $400. The message went on to tell him the order had been split into two orders and included an order number.

Then the reader was instructed to call the support team if he did not place these orders. When he tried to call the number provided no one answered the phone. Of course the reader did not order anything from Google Play so the scammer counts on the customer making contact with them so they can have direct contact to convince callers to give up personal information.

My advice is don’t bother to call the numbers listed on an email or a text message because if the communication is coming from a scammer it will be a bogus number. Instead ignore these notices and then watch your credit card statements to make sure no unauthorized charges are getting processed on your account. If an unauthorized charge gets through, call your credit card company to contest the charge.

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Telehealth creates new cyber risks

With the continued shut-downs as a result of COVID-19, more people are finding the only way they can “see” their doctor is online using a telehealth service. Prior to the pandemic, the telehealth market was estimated near $3 billion annually with 11% of consumers using telehealth services in 2019 but now in 2020 since COVID-19 hit, the telehealth market is expected to grow to $250 billion with 46% of consumers now using telehealth services according to estimates prepared by McKinsey & Company.

The reality is that to serve this surge in demand, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have had to ease their telehealth requirements in order to serve more patients during the pandemic. Unfortunately, along with providing legitimate services to patients, this has allowed for an inadvertent waive of billing fraud and risk to patient safety.

Also, during the COVID-19 crisis we have been told to be more vigilant about cyber scams, phishing scams, hackers, and insider threats that are targeting our online presence, including online health services. The fact is, the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed cyber scammers and phishing schemes and hackers to target health care professionals and consumers.

Some examples for fraud schemes that have come to light include:

Fraud scams that tout cures for COVID-19 through phone calls, fake social media posts and door-to-door sales.

Phishing and vishing scams including fake emails, texts and phone calls to get you to share personal information like account numbers, Social Security numbers, or your login IDs and passwords.

Hacking/malware where hackers use malicious software such as viruses, spyware, adware, and ransomware to infect your computer.

Insider threats including current and former employees like the careless worker, the disgruntled employee, the malicious insider, and the outside contractor or vendor who has access to consumer private information.

While Telehealth is an emerging opportunity with great potential, Telehealth has great potential to contribute to medical identity theft too. As consumers, we need to reduce our risk of medical identity theft by safeguarding our health insurance cards, reviewing our medical benefits statements, protecting our private information including Medicare numbers, medical bills and prescription bills.

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Tech solutions scam

This is not a new scam but seems to be making the rounds again. I’ve received calls from local readers saying that they are receiving voicemails from a company called Tech Solutions. The voicemail notifies the customer that they will receive a charge of $399 unless they notify the company within 48 hours of notice to cancel the order.

The calls come from a 208 area code number to make us think that the company is local but, by now, we are aware that scammers can use any number they want because they spoof numbers.

Other than Tech Solutions, the caller does not identify anything else about the company or the service in which the customer has supposedly ordered. These are phishing calls and are designed to get you to call the scammer back so they can get your personal information by likely telling you they need it to run your refund through.

Ignore these calls and don’t call them back. Watch your bank account and credit card or PayPal statements to make sure unauthorized charges don’t show up on your account. If charges do show up, call your banking institution or credit card company to get it corrected.

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Remember: I’m on your side.

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If you have encountered a consumer issue that you have questions about or think our readers should know about, please send me an email at terridickersonadvocate@gmail.com or call me at 208-274-4458. As The CDA Press Consumer Gal, I’m here to help. I’m a copywriter working with businesses on marketing strategy, a columnist, a veterans advocate and a consumer advocate living in Coeur d’Alene.