Organization alerts for coronavirus scams, offers help to fill out their income tax
By Lynette M. Loomis
Randy Hoak is AARP’s associate state director for Western and Central New York. AARP has been working to promote the health and well-being of older Americans for more than 60 years. With older people most susceptible to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, AARP is providing information and resources to help people protect themselves and those they love from the virus and prevent spreading to others. Below are some common questions and their answers as AARP helps New Yorkers 50 and over navigate this new environment.
Q. Should you be wary of coronavirus scams?
A. Yes. Know that there is no vaccine, treatment or cure for COVID-19 yet. Ignore offers online or in stores that claim to offer treatment or cure. Scammers are offering coronavirus testing – some even going door to door – in an attempt to steal your health insurance or Medicare information to submit false claims.
- Never provide your Medicare number to anyone but your own medical professionals.
- Follow information on any financial support only from a source you trust and can validate.
- Air duct replacement offers to help keep coronavirus out of your home are a flat-out s
- Check out any charitable donation solicitations at charitynavigator.org and www.give.org, or ask the caller to send information by mail.
- Ensure any links or texts in email solicitations are credible before you click.
- Any emails claiming to be from the CDC or experts with breaking news information will come from an address ending in .gov.
- Call the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360 to report a scam or for help if you think you’ve become a victim of one.
- For information on coronavirus-related scams from the Federal Trade Commission, visit ftc.gov/coronavirus.
Q. With nursing homes and other long-term care facilities shutting their doors to outside visitors to prevent the potential spread of coronavirus inside their facilities, how can family members and loved ones connect with facility residents?
A. Use FaceTime, Skype, other virtual applications, email or even an old-fashioned telephone call to check in.
Q. How is AARP helping older NYers stay connected during this time of social isolation?
A. AARP launched a new free online platform, AARP Community Connections, to help people organize and find local volunteer groups to help pick up groceries, provide financial assistance or lend emotional support to neighbors, friends and loved ones. You can request a friendly call from an AARP Volunteer or a trained counselor Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.aarpcommunityconnections.org.
Also, with adult care centers closed, many family caregivers and the loved ones for whom they care are experiencing forced isolation. To learn more, go to https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/home-care/info-2020/caregiving-isolation-quarantine.html.
Q. What role is AARP playing in influencing government policies and legislation?
A. We are urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to require – and help make it easier to set up – virtual visits for nursing home residents.
We’re also urging Governor Cuomo and state legislators to pass a permanent paid sick leave law that ensures workers can take paid sick days to care for their older loved ones. Our unpaid family caregivers shouldn’t have to risk losing their jobs or their pay to ensure their older loved ones are receiving the care they need.
Q. What can New Yorkers concerned about making sure their affairs are in order do?
A. A living will is a legal document that provides guidance to your doctors and health care surrogates about your preferences for medical care should you become too ill to make decisions on your own. To learn more, go to https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/financial-legal/info-2019/what-is-a-living-will.html
Q. Can I still get help from AARP to file my taxes?
A. The AARP Tax Aide program has been suspended. For updates, go to https://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/. But in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, the Treasury Department has extended the deadline to file federal tax returns to July 15. The IRS website (https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus) should provide periodic updates on coronavirus tax relief and stimulus payment checks.