In this monthly column, Northside Public Safety Council President David Stacy shares public safety news for Pittsburgh’s Northside.
By David Stacy
Photo courtesy of Atlantic Training via Wikimedia Commons
The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office issued a “Fraud Squad Alert” for the types of scams that are expected to increase during the time of COVID-19: namely, robocalls, stimulus check scams, and Medicare fraud.
According to the D.A.’s alert, robocallers have offered “… air duct sanitation services, work-from- home opportunities, cut-rate health insurance, … immune-system boosting nutritional supplements, … free insulin kits to diabetics, [and] free coronavirus testing kits.” Be advised that if you get a call from a number you don’t know, ignore it. If you answer the call and think it could be a robocall, just hang up. Do not press any numbers that the message prompts you to. Never give out your personal information in a response to unsolicited calls or text messages. Do not click on links in text messages sent to you from an unknown number. Finally, if you’re receiving a lot of robocalls, call your cellular provider and ask about services available to block the calls.
Stimulus check scams
Reported stimulus check scams include “… crooks promising to expedite payment in exchange for a fee, impersonating a government official, and requesting sensitive personal information in order to process a check,” according to the D.A.’s alert. Protect yourself by spotting “red flags” such as anyone who claims that they can expedite your stimulus check, anyone who requests your sensitive financial information, and anyone who claims that your completion of the 2020 Census impacts whether or not you receive a stimulus check.
If you think you’ve been a victim of one of these scams, the D.A.’s office encourages you to file a complaint at fraud.org or to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by phone at 1-877-382-4357.
Scammers “… might lie about sending you Coronavirus vaccines, tests, masks, or other items in exchange for your Medicare number or personal information,” according to the D.A.’s alert. To protect yourself, only share your Medicare number with your doctors and trusted healthcare providers. Also, read over your Medicare claims summary forms to check for errors.
You can report Medicare fraud by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Zone One crime statistics for March 2020 are now available. Highlights include:
111 total reported crimes in Zone One
39 reports of shots fired
18 reports of crimes in East Allegheny
12.2% decrease in Zone One calls for service from March 2018 to March 2020
8.3% decrease in Zone One calls for service from March 2019 to March 2020
6% decrease in Zone One calls for service from February 2020 to March 2020
The Northside Public Safety Council (NSPSC) meeting previously scheduled for June 4 is canceled due to COVID-19 and the CDC’s requirement on public meetings, but we hope to resume in July unless notified otherwise.
We cannot stress enough to look after one another and please check on your neighbors as well as the elderly, disabled, less fortunate, and homeless populations, within the safe guidelines we all are getting used to at this time. A phone call goes a long way, especially for those who are alone in this time of self-isolation. Violent crimes are down, but domestic violence and burglaries are up, so again, look after your neighbors and neighborhood and report to 911 or 311 if you have concerns.
Please feel free to contact the NSPSC if you have any concerns or needs via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone: 412-321-0295.