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Published 3/19/2020
2:41pm

AG Nessel: Scammers Are Spoofing Health Department Phone Numbers Seeking Medicaid/Medicare Information

Incoming Calls Impact Local Response to COVID-19

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Shiawassee News photo

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning that scammers are spoofing phone numbers of at least one local public health department and calling residents to offer medication while asking for their Medicaid and Medicare numbers for billing purposes. Incoming calls to the local health department are then jamming up phonelines and delaying official business in responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  

Reports so far have been focused on the Ionia County Health Department. The Attorney General’s office issued a consumer alert making residents aware of the situation earlier today.

“Scammers will not hesitate to gain access to your private information, and false promises of medications will not be fulfilled,” Nessel said. “As a result of this scam, the number of calls to local public health departments are also hindering their ability to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Never provide any personal information over the phone unless you have first independently confirmed who you are talking to.”

To seem more official, scammers often use a process known as “spoofing” – when a call appears to be coming from a legitimate government phone number. The caller may also sound professional and be very persuasive.

Anyone who receives a phone call they suspect to be a scam should hang up the phone. No one should give out personal information to an unsolicited caller.

Residents should also be aware of online coronavirus scams selling bogus products and providing false information on COVID-19 tests and treatments. These attempts to obtain the personal information of consumers may include emails or online posts pitching unreliable products, advice, fake tests and cures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

Those who wish to make a report about potential scams, price-gouging and any other violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act can do so with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection team by filing a complaint online or by calling 877-765-8388.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly.

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3/15/2020 Update

Monday, all K-12 schools in the state of Michigan will be closed to help prevent the spread of the Novel Coronavirus. Governor Gretchen Whitmer made the announcement after 10 more cases if coronavirus were confirmed positive in state.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is planning a 15-and-a-half-million-dollar project. MDOT announced crews will begin resurfacing Eight Mile Road between I-75 in Hazel Park and I-94 in Harper Woods starting March 30th.  

The Kalamazoo St. Patrick's Day parade this Saturday is canceled. The Irish American Club of Kalamazoo canceled the parade after Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Two Blue Cross Blue Shield walk-in centers are closing in Grand Rapids due to the coronavirus. The health insurance company says it will be closing ten total customer walk-in centers across Michigan.

An Oakland County judge may become the first-ever Chaldean American to serve as a federal judge. President Trump has nominated Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Hala Jarbou to fill a vacancy.

Saginaw K-9 Deebo is back on the force. The K-9 Deebo Facebook page says all restrictions have been lifted. Deebo has been cleared for light training after being stabbed a month ago.

Willow Health Center, part of the Ingham Community Health Centers, will relocate, to a more central Lansing location Tuesday. Willow Health Center provides care to people ages 10-21.  

If you are a user of the driver assistance program through the Mackinac Bridge Authority, you may want to find a new way across the bridge. The authority announced on Twitter they will be suspending the program to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.