The Villages of Kensington would like to warn you about Covid-19 scams in the Montgomery County area.
COVID-19-Related Scams Targeting County Residents Are Being Exposed by Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer ProtectionThe COVID-19 health crisis in itself has been quite a hardship, but recently, residents have found themselves as the targets of scams related to the virus threat. Now the Montgomery County Office of Consumer is providing information on how to identify those scams on the County’s COVID-19 comprehensive website.
Among the scams identified are ones regarding bogus products, testing sites and vaccine availability. The scams are being directed toward consumers via email, texting and telephone. In most cases, the attention-getting scams seek to have innocent residents provide the scammers with funds for services or products that do not actually exist. In other cases, fake or stolen vaccines may be offered on the “dark net.”
Numerous new “phishing” scams have been devised by scammers to take advantage of consumers seeking information on how to preregister for vaccines—or how to get around the systems that have been set up by local governments, health care systems or private pharmacies. The deceptive email messages seek to trick consumers into providing their Social Security numbers, credit card information or bank information.
County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council Vice President Gabe Albornoz have identified a need to warn consumers about the increasing number of scams and called upon the County to include financial protection information in conjunction with health information.
“Responding to the numerous health and financial related challenges caused by the current pandemic requires Montgomery County to establish multidisciplinary teams and experts to collaborate and take action,” said County Executive Elrich. “We recognize that scammers seek to exploit news events and cause financial harm to consumers and businesses. Accordingly, in addition to providing information about vaccines and testing, we also need to provide alerts to prevent residents from becoming the targets and victims of COVID-19-related scams that may cause financial harm.”
A new video on COVID-19-related scams was released today and can be viewed at https://youtu.be/XlX6rRxxVN0.
Information about the scams can be found at the County COVID-19 information website at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/.
“In the wake of COVID-19, scammers are finding new ways to cause financial and irreparable harm,” said Council Vice President Albornoz. “During the past several months, we have seen a dramatic increase of fraudulent vaccination sites, robo calls and phishing scams targeting County residents—especially our most vulnerable. We must continue to do all that we can to end these criminal practices and protect our residents.”
Office of Consumer Protection Director Eric Friedman said: “These scammers are clever and opportunistic. They seek to turn the latest news events into scams that exploit consumer fears and concerns regarding the Coronavirus.”
To prevent interaction with scammers, Director Friedman advises residents to rely on information provided by the County’s official website. The information available includes:
Media contact: Eric Friedman, 240-777-3719
Soft launch of COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center results in over 2,000 new appointments for seniors, eligible Marylanders
The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the Maryland Department of Aging (MDOA) are working together to promote access to vaccines through a telephone-based support line and appointment system that is designed to assist those without internet access. On Monday, the departments began contacting seniors directly to invite them to use the new COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829).
“Maryland’s new Vaccination Support Center is an important part of our efforts to promote equity in vaccination for the state’s most vulnerable residents,” said Acting MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “By providing telephone access and the assistance of live advocates, we are making the vaccine registration process simple and easy.”
How the support center works. The COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Marylanders can call the center to get information on COVID-19 vaccines and identify providers closest to their homes. The center is specifically designed to assist residents without internet access.
The center can also help callers schedule vaccination appointments at the state’s mass vaccination sites, including Six Flags America in Prince George’s County, which has been in operation since February 5. The site currently serves up to 2,000 Marylanders a day and will increase its capacity as more vaccines become available from the federal government.
Successful soft launch. On Monday, the call center soft launched with nearly 6,000 inbound and outbound calls targeting segmented groups of seniors drawn from lists provided by the Maryland Department of Aging, including participants in the Senior Call Check program. The call center has now booked more than 2,000 appointments for the Six Flags mass vaccination site. The 619 outbound calls yielded a connection rate of 37%.
“Ensuring that our most vulnerable populations receive vaccines is our top priority, and new resources such as the Vaccine Support Center are creating more accessibility,” said MDOA Secretary Rona Kramer. “I am thrilled to offer this new option for our aging populations.”
The Vaccination Support Center is available to all Marylanders who are eligible for a vaccine, including anyone who will benefit from a telephone-based system. All Marylanders age 65 and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Phase 1C of Maryland’s vaccination plan, and the state has asked vaccine providers to prioritize Marylanders 65 and over.
Visit covidlink.maryland.gov for more information on Maryland’s response to COVID-19. Vaccine and other coronavirus data are available at coronavirus.maryland.gov.
Great Backyard Bird Count
Date & Time: February 12-15
Location: Your backyard - choose your time
Program: Great Backyard Bird Count
How to Participate : Great Backyard Bird Count