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Prepare to Care Podcast: COVID-19 Scams, Employee Caregivers

This week’s ‘Prepare to Care’ podcast addresses two different topics that impact us all during these difficult times: scammers and caregivers. To give older Americans the tips, information, and resources they need during the COVID-19 outbreak we are referring to scam experts and caregiving specialists.

Tricia Sandiego, AARP Sr. Advisor for CSN Programs, Caregiving & Health is offering tips for working caregivers amidst the COVID-19 epidemic. She is also talking about companies and what they can do to be more supportive during these difficult times. But before we hear what Sandiego has to say, we’re going to be talking scams.

Listen to our AARP Podcast: COVID-19 Scams, Employee Caregivers

Scammers are always thinking of ways to entice victims, especially in times of trouble. AARP Texas has reached out to the Texas Attorney General’s Office for the latest information on combatting these frauds and schemes. Amanda Sanders, Outreach Director for the Attorney General’s Office, tells us about the latest scams in Texas, how to spot them and what you can do to protect yourself.

AARP TEXAS: There are several types of scams out there. What are they?

SANDERS: Common scams being reported include, but are not limited to: cyber scams, telephone, and text messaging scams, counterfeit product offers, bogus door to door tests, virus-related products, and phony charity donation requests.

Scammers have also gone door to door offering at-home Coronavirus testing and virus-related products. They could also claim to offer a cure for the virus. They ask for credit card or cash payments. The most important thing to keep in mind is if it’s not coming through a doctor’s office, it is probably a scam.

AARP TEXAS: What is one of the top COVID-19 scams out there now?

SANDERS: We are seeing scammers who are trying to steal federal payments to individuals and businesses under the recently enacted bill. A scammer may tell you they can help you get your check from the government, and ask for personal information. Never give out your bank routing number or any other personal information. When it comes to those supplement relief checks, remember you do not need to do anything to get your check if you filed your taxes for 2018 and/or 2019. The federal government should have the information to send you the funds if you qualify. If you did not file taxes for 2018 or 2019, you may need to file a simple tax return in order to receive your check. For more information, official updates or help, visit the economic impact page at www.irs.gov.

AARP TEXAS: How do you identify scams?

SANDERS: The first sign is, did they contact you? When you contact a business, you know who's on the other end of the line. But when someone contacts you first, you can't be certain they're telling the truth. You don't know if they are who they say they are. And remember, email addresses and caller ID information can be faked.

It’s a scam if someone dangles bait in front of you—a big prize, an easy loan — for nothing, they're probably lying.

AARP TEXAS: What is the most helpful information to report on scams?

SANDERS: It’s helpful when you provide details on what the scammer offered to you, and what they asked of you in order to receive it. We’re talking any identifying information that you have on the scammer – their name, business name, location, email or phone number. Also, receipts and any email correspondence between you and the scammer can help.

If you come across a scammer trying to take your check, we want to hear about it. Report it to our office online at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection or call our office’s toll-free complaint line at 800-621-0508.

NEW TOPIC: EMPLOYER CAREGIVING
AARP wants to know what companies can do to be more supportive of caregivers who are also juggling a job. Tricia Sandiego, AARP Sr. Advisor for CSN Programs, Caregiving, and Health, offers tips for working caregivers amidst the COVID-19 epidemic.

AARP TEXAS: Who is a family caregiver?

SANDIEGO: Family caregivers do not always self-identify as family caregivers. They are spouses, partners, friends, neighbors, siblings, relatives or anyone who provides care for a loved one. This care can range from offering a loved one transportation to go to appointments, providing them with supplies and food, managing their finances and much more.

AARP TEXAS: How can companies support their employee caregivers during this epidemic?

SANDIEGO: Employers can support working family caregivers by offering remote work as a way to reduce exposure to the virus. They can also provide paid leave and let workers know how to use it so employees don’t feel obligated to work while ill. Managers should aim to be as flexible as possible and encourage staff to use benefits, such as employee assistance programs or educational referral resources. Lastly, ask your employees, “what do you need right now?”

AARP TEXAS: What does the Families First Act mean for families and caregivers?

SANDIEGO: Family’s First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is an act that was recently passed that requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. It provides more employee rights that can be helpful to family caregivers during this time.

AARP TEXAS: Some caregivers who have family members in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are feeling an enormous amount of emotional stress right now especially because they can’t be with their loved ones in person. What advice do you have to help ease their pain?

SANDIEGO: To help alleviate the stress you feel when you’re separated from someone and visitation is restricted, caregivers should communicate with the facility your loved one is in. Ask questions. Ask all the questions that you need to help you to put yourself at ease.

AARP TEXAS: What should you ask nursing homes and assisted living facilities?

SANDIEGO: These are the questions you should be asking nursing homes and assisted living facilities:

· What steps is the facility taking to prevent the spread of infection?

· Is the facility adequately staffed?

· Are the staff trained for emergency preparedness?

· Does the staff have personal protective equipment?

· What is the facility doing to help enable virtual and telephone visits?

· What can residents do safely within the facility to engage with one another?

AARP TEXAS: What free resources are out there for family caregivers who work?

SANDIEGO: AARP.org/coronavirus has information, articles, and content for people who are working while caring for a loved one. AARP.org/employercaregiving has free tools and resources for employers. If you’re a working family caregiver, this is something you may want to pass along to your employer.

AARP TEXAS: Do you have one last piece of advice?

SANDIEGO: Yes, remember to be kind to yourself. We’re under a lot of pressure right now. Do what you can, do the best that you can and thank you for the care that you’re giving. Stay safe and stay home.

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