CHASKA, Minn. — Chaska Police are warning of a new scam targeting some seniors, in which callers try to trick them into thinking they need to provide credit card information for a COVID-19 test.
Officer Julie Janke, the community partnership specialist with Chaska PD, said it doesn’t appear any residents have fallen victim to the scam yet. But it was concerning enough that the department posted a transcript of the reported scam on Facebook, in which a caller says “according to our system, you are likely to have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This means that you now need to self-isolate for 7 days and take a COVID-19 test.” The caller eventually asks for a $50 payment – along with an address and credit card information – seeking to swindle people by exploiting COVID-19 fears.
This could be potentially damaging to seniors, who are already worried about COVID-19 as it stands.
“They are nervous about it. And nervous about getting sick,” Officer Janke said. ”It’s always a fear that they put into the seniors - our vulnerable adults that they get a hold of - and they make it sound very believable.”
Although KARE 11 became aware of this scam through the Chaska Police Department, these types of schemes have unfortunately not been uncommon during the pandemic. The Minnesota Department of Health also said it’s received reports of scams, such as the following:
- Fake letters about mask guidance, made to look like they’re from the CDC
- Emails about fake “get out of mask free cards,” posing as MDH
- Contact tracing scams
Department of Health officials, and other experts like Chaska PD, say that real public health agencies will never ask for a Social Security number, payment information or any money at all.
Bao Vang, the communications director for the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota, also said they’re seeing scam calls during the pandemic for four specific reasons – which seem to create the “perfect environment” for scammers.
“We’re financially and emotionally vulnerable. We’re socially isolated. We’re spending more time online. We’re allowing distractions in. Scammers are opportunists,” Vang said. “Every single day, it’s COVID-19 [in the news] and they’re watching out for the latest.”
So you should ask a lot of questions, Vang said, and do your homework on the person calling you. Of course, you can also hang up quickly, or simply not answer a number you don’t recognize.
If you get any suspicious COVID-19 scam calls, you can report them to the State Attorney General.